Central New York is no stranger to neighbors rolling up their sleeves and going to work to help one another. The latest example comes in the form of the "Be A Neighbor Fund." The fund has awarded its fifth and final monetary gift to a local restaurant.

The "Be A Neighbor Fund" was established in January of 2021 by three local companies. Their mission was to do something to help benefit other businesses that were struggling due to the impact of COVID-19. Those three companies, or organizations, were Universal Bookkeeper, Made in Utica and McGrogan Design. Since the fund's inception on February 1st, local community members donated over $27,000 to the fund.

Officials with the "Be A Neighbor Fund" say that they received 30 applications from folks and over 80 nominations for businesses to receive awards. The ultimate recipients of those awards were chosen based on a number of factors including financial need, longevity, community involvement and public nominations. On Thursday, the final award of $1,000 per month for 3 months was given to Irwin's Fine Food on Genesee Street in Downtown Utica. A combination of limited capacity, supply costs and a big portion of their catering business drying up Irwin's saw an over $20,000 decrease in revenue. So, the "Be A Neighbor Fund" intervened and made things hopefully a little easier.

Laura Irwin of Irwin's Food says,

I love being in Downtown Utica and feel that it’s worth sticking it out. I see good things happening in Utica and I really would like to continue to be a part of it.

The sponsor for the 5th "Be A Neighbor" award presentation was First Source Federal Credit Union. CEO of First Soure Tom Neumann said of Irwin's,

They are a staple in Utica, being in business for over 20 years! Known for their cookies, and family atmosphere, it would be unfortunate to lose a business like this. We really wanted to help and are so glad we are able to provide this grant.

Long term businesses and really all small businesses need any and all help they can receive at this time. Consider supporting not just local restaurants, but retail stores and other local small businesses. Other recipients of the "Be A Neighbor Fund" grants include Cafe Domenico, Mello’s Subs, Bodywise Pure Pilates and Simmer Jamacian Restaurant.

If you would like to make a donation to the cause you can do so on the Handshake.City website.

READ MORE: Here are 10 ways to help others who are struggling right now

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