Have Nonprofits Found Any Silver Linings This Past Year? Yes!

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(At United Way, heightened partnerships have been a silver lining in 2020 | Photo courtesy of Heart of Oregon Corps)

When asked if anything good has come from the pandemic and other crises of 2020, most of the nonprofit directors queried were quick to answer with a resounding “yes.”

“Absolutely! We have discovered that as a dedicated small staff, with our community’s support, we are able to assist our families above and beyond mentoring services,” says Bridget Albert, community outreach coordinator of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon. “We are committed to providing the resources that our families desperately need during this crisis and any crisis that may follow. This pandemic has posed one of the greatest threats to the potential of our youth, and we are committed to taking up the charge to defend it now, more than ever.”

Boys & Girls Clubs Executive Director Juliana Williams says, “One of things that’s been an unexpected bright spot in our programming is that our COVID guidelines have required much smaller group sizes and increased staff. While this is very expensive, it has allowed our staff to develop closer relationships with our youth. We need more staff to serve less youth, but the benefit is that we can support them even further.” 

Gil Levy, executive director of KIDS Center says, “Like every organization, we’ve experienced such a challenging year. But for an organization like KIDS Center that really relies on the community to support us, it’s been amazing to see that this is still here. Even in the midst of everyone going through their own emotional, financial or physical challenge, we’ve got great supporters. We feel so fortunate that so many people have stepped up to tell us they aren’t going anywhere. That’s been great.”

At United Way of Central Oregon, Executive Director Ken Wilhelm says they are experiencing better attendance at their board meetings now that they are all on Zoom. “United Way’s relevance and role as a community problem-solver has been made more apparent, and companies and foundations have reached out to partner with us in that work,” he said. “But I do have concern for the toll on the volunteers, including board members. I think we are all suffering from Zoom fatigue.”

At Bethlehem Inn, Executive Director Gwenn Wysling says the silver lining is that no one at Bethlehem Inn has tested positive for COVID-19. “The importance of keeping everyone safe has helped us maintain a focus on our mission and its importance in our community. These challenging times helped us slow down, assess how we do things and learn how to do things differently. We focus on what is within our control and, as we commonly share with our residents, to always be prepared with a Plan B.”

Younity Co-Founder and President Arlene Gibson adds, “We now will reach more people in the community virtually. That’s awesome! Our previous in-person events have transferred to online settings, so we now have an opportunity to interact and partner with other community seminars and workshops and to share our mission with people and organizations across the country. That’s amazing! Central Oregon is our focus, that’s our priority, but once you have it virtual, you can reach a lot of people. Our community is really coming together, that is a beautiful thing.”

bbbsco.orgkidscenter.orgunitedwaycentraloregon.orgbethleheminn.orgyounityus.org heartoforegon.org 

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