Emergency & Relocation Assistance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the HERO Fund?
HERO stands for Hamra Employees Reaching Out.  The HERO Fund was originally established as an emergency assistance fund, funded by Hamra employees for Hamra employees.  The emergency fund is designed to support employees when they experience a situation that is catastrophic and damaging to life, health or property and they are faced with severe financial hardship where all other sources of funding have been exhausted.

The HERO Fund is partnered with WorkLife, which allows us to make the most difference for each other through the HERO Fund.  WorkLife is a free, confidential service that can help employees overcome many of life’s challenges.

The HERO Fund also provides Tuition Reimbursement grants to eligible Hamra employees and Home Buying Assistance to eligible employees at Chicago Bread and Wendy’s of Chicago (see Eligibility and FAQs for these programs).

Who is eligible for a HERO Emergency Grant? 
All employees of Hamra Enterprises (part-time and full-time) are eligible for emergency assistance through The HERO Fund. “Employees of Hamra Enterprises” includes employees from Boston Bread, Chicago Bread, Southern Bread, Wendy’s of Missouri, Wendy’s of New England, Wendy’s of Chicago, Hamra Noodles, SJH Inns, and Hamra Management.  An employee does not have to donate to the fund to apply for and receive funding.

For Relocation Assistance grants, an employee is eligible if they have been a Hamra Employee for 90 days.

For Total Loss of Home, Transitional Housing, Relocation Assistance, Loss or Purchase of Medically Necessary Equipment and events not under our current guidelines an employee must first work with a WorkLife navigator before being eligible to pursue HERO grant funding.

What is considered an emergency situation?
Applicants to The HERO Fund must have a documented emergency situation that results in a loss of life, health or property and is in the face of severe financial hardship where all other sources of funding have been exhausted. This crisis situation must be an event beyond the employee’s control. Emergency situations considered for assistance are:

  • Total Loss of home
  • Transitional housing
  • Funeral expenses (must be financially responsible)
  • Emergency travel
  • Loss or purchase of medically necessary equipment
  • Medical Out of Work (Short term/Long term)
  • Natural Disaster

What types of requests does The HERO Fund not cover?
Qualifying emergencies do not include circumstances that involve providing assistance to pay for debt consolidation, litigation, poor financial planning, non-essential items (e.g., cable TV, credit card payments, expenses related to vehicles, etc), bail, garnishments, or other expenses deriving from non-emergency situations.

The HERO Fund does not cover requests for medical assistance that is already covered by health benefits, fuel costs for vehicle or home heating use, or any situation not based on a one-time, non-recurring incident.

How do I apply for a grant from The HERO Fund?
Applicants to The HERO Fund can apply online at www.hamraheroes.org.  No one can apply on behalf of an employee, except in the situations where an employee has passed away (In this case, a family member can apply for a HERO Funeral Grant) or in the event the applicant is unable to apply based on physical injury and has given express permission for their supervisor or HR person to apply on their behalf.  Applications will not be reviewed without proper documentation, which can be submitted to the HERO Administration email at:  heroadmin@hamraheroes.org.

Once an application is received, it is reviewed by The HERO Fund Admin Team.  If it is an application for any of the following events, the applicant will be referred to work with a WorkLife navigator before being considered for HERO grant funding:

  • Total Loss of Home
  • Transitional Housing
  • Relocation Assistance
  • Loss or purchase of medically necessary equipment
  • Events not under current guidelines

In these instances, if after working with a WorkLife Navigator, funding is still needed, the HERO Administrator will ensure all necessary documentation is included and then submit the application to The HERO Fund Steering Committee for review and decision based on the eligibility guidelines.  The HERO Fund Admin Team will contact the applicant if any necessary paperwork is missing.

In the event that an applicant does not speak, read, or understand English, that applicant bears responsibility to arrange for translation services. Specifically, please designate an English-speaking person to communicate with the HERO Fund Admin Team on your behalf regarding your application.  There is a place on the HERO Fund Emergency application to include that person’s name and contact information.

Matching Grant
This is the true spirit of Hamra Employees Reaching Out.  If an employee  does not meet the criteria for assistance from The HERO Fund, an approved fundraiser can be held on their behalf which may qualify for a Matching Grant.  Fundraisers should be approved through the proper channels of each market and are not associated with The HERO Fund in any way.  It is preferred that employees first apply for and be denied a HERO grant.  NOTE: An applicant cannot receive a HERO grant and matching funds for the same event.

What documentation is required?
All decisions made by The HERO Fund Steering Committee are determined based on the information submitted. In addition to a completed Emergency Application, the Committee requests documentation of expenses pertaining to the emergency as well as any official documentation of the incident that has created the financial hardship. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • physician’s statement (including dates unable to work & any restrictions)
  • accident, police or fire report
  • death certificate, Statement from Funeral home
  • Expense receipts

What happens if The HERO Fund Admin Team or Steering Committee requests further information?
If further information is requested, the applicant has two (2) weeks to provide the requested information. Following receipt of the requested information, the application will be presented to The HERO Fund Steering Committee and The HERO Fund Admin Team will notify the applicant of the status of the application.  If the requested information is not provided in the two-week time period, the application will not be considered.

How much funding is available and what limits apply to this funding?
Depending on the nature of the request, grants can range from $100 to $2,000 for the eligible emergency event grants and from $2,000 to $5,000 for Relocation Assistance grants.  (see The HERO Fund Eligibility Guidelines).  However, an applicant may not receive more than the following:

Emergency Event grants:  Either two grants or a total of $2,000 in a 12-month period

Relocation Assistance grants:  One grant in the employee’s lifetime

What if my situation qualifies for two different guidelines?  (Ex. – Funeral Expense and Emergency Travel)
In this case, the applicant would fill out one application and provide proper documentation for each applicable guideline.  The committee will consider each applicable guideline separately.  All limits still apply (see above).

Who will know that I have applied for assistance through The HERO Fund?
Each application is maintained by The HERO Fund Admin Team.  When the application is given to The HERO Fund Steering Committee, the applicant’s name will not be given. At no time is an applicant’s identifying information available to anyone involved in the decision-making process. Administrators of The HERO Fund and a WorkLife Navigator are the only individuals who may have access to the confidential application for assistance, and such access is granted only to the extent required to process and fund the application, if necessary.

The HERO Fund application does provide the option for the applicant to give permission for the HERO Fund Admin Team to contact their GM in cases where they can provide information to support and expedite the processing of the application.

How long does the application/funding process typically take?
Typically, once an is submitted to be reviewed for grant funding, applications are processed 1-2 business days after documentation is received and funds are made available within 24-48 hours from the time the committee considers and approves the application.  However, no application will be sent to the Steering Committee without proper documentation.

What happens after I have applied for assistance?
If the applicant is applying for events that require working with a WorkLife Navigator, that applicant will be referred to a Navigator by the HERO Administrator (and after the administrator has talked to the applicant) and a navigator will contact them within 24 hours.  Once an application is ready to be considered for grant funding, The HERO Fund Steering Committee (made up of employees representing all entities of Hamra Enterprises) receives a copy of the application to review. This group has the very important responsibility of making sure that the funds are used in the most helpful manner possible. Unfortunately, The HERO Fund is not able to provide assistance to all applicants. The committee makes decisions for assistance based on documented crises, the HERO Fund eligibility guidelines, and the bylaws that govern the committee.  After The HERO Fund Steering Committee has reviewed your application, The HERO Fund Admin Team will contact you regarding the status of your application. The committee can approve or deny an application or request additional information. The HERO Fund Admin Team will tell you what the next step in the process is following the committee’s decision.

What happens after I have been approved for assistance?
If the application is approved for assistance, checks are made payable directly to the applicant except in situations involving Relocation Assistance grants, in which case the monies are sent directly to the landlord. Checks are usually issued within 24-48 hours after the committee considers and approves the case and typically take about 3-5 days to arrive by mail.

In cases where an applicant has been approved for a Medical Out of Work grant funding will be sent to the recipient on a bi-weekly basis until they return to work or the funding limit is met, whichever comes first.

Do monies have to be repaid?
Funds distributed are a grant – not a loan – and do not need to be repaid. Because the IRS considers assistance taxable income, if any applicant is granted more than $600 in assistance the applicant will receive a 1099 form at the end of the year stating receipt of the grant.

These FAQs provide general information regarding the operations of The HERO Fund. The HERO Fund Board of Directors reserves the right to change its operating policies and procedures at any time in accordance with provisions set forth in its bylaw

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