We know, the last two weeks have been overwhelming on many levels and life as we know it has been turned upside down. We all know someone who is now out of work, some favorite restaurant that is closed, some park we love shut.
It’s a lot to deal with and absorb. But in the midst of all this we urge you not to forget about the hundreds of nonprofit organizations out there who make up the fabric of our community. They provide entertainment and the arts, sports activities for young and older, meals for the hungry, shelter for those without a home and myriad other activities and services that are so prevalent we often take them for granted.
Not only do these nonprofits provide the services and activities that make us the community we are, they also provide hundreds of much-needed jobs to residents here.
The National Council of Nonprofits, which represents more than a million organizations across the country, summed it up well:
“Charitable nonprofits embody the best of America. They provide a way for people to work together for the common good, transforming shared beliefs and hopes into action. They give shape to our boldest dreams, highest ideals, and noblest causes...Every person in the United States benefits from the work of nonprofits in one way or another, whether they realize it or not.”
Yet the coronavirus has hit our nonprofits hard, just like it has other businesses. They are hurting too, and need our help.
The Roseburg Dream Center, which is a lifeline to hundreds of homeless people, is in desperate need of funds, supplies and volunteers. The Center can no longer allow its clients into its facility in the basement of the Foundation Fellowship Church, because it’s too small to abide by social distancing protocol.
That means volunteers have to carry food, clothing, blankets and other items up a steep flight of stairs for each of the 80+ people who seek help at the Dream Center. Dream Center Director Tim Edmondson said his agency will keep doing what they can, despite the shortages and potential health risks involved in their work.
“At some point a need becomes greater than the risk or danger to self,” Edmondson said. “The Dream Center is going to take the risk to help those in need.”
Southern Oregon Goodwill, which has locations in Roseburg and Sutherlin, has had to shutter its doors, close its stores and stop taking donations. That means many of the 300 employees of Goodwill in Southern Oregon are now out of work, and the 6,000 people who would avail themselves of its services cannot do so.
Umpqua Valley Habitat for Humanity, which helps low-income families own their own homes, has had to stop doing that for the time being. The agency also was forced to postpone a major fundraising event, Hammer N’Ales Brewfest, which had been scheduled for April 18. The event was re-scheduled for September, and Habitat staff are keeping their fingers crossed.
Cultural organizations, which would normally help us take our minds off of our problems, are also struggling mightily.
This week the Oregon Cultural Trust, which represents 1,500 nonprofit cultural organizations across the state, sent out a plea for help. The letter said that since the crisis began, nonprofit organizations in Oregon have cancelled thousands of performances, events and activities — including many fundraisers — and most have closed their doors to the public. As of Friday, the group said, more than 400 Oregon cultural nonprofits have reported losses of $8.6 million, and that number is expected to grow to more $45 million by the end of May.
The Trust wrote:
“The loss of projected earned income, lifeblood for most cultural organizations, has already resulted in significant layoffs and furloughs, with many more to come if relief doesn’t arrive soon. Many organizations are already facing bankruptcy and permanent closure.
In addition, cancellations of events and programming, as well as school closures, have adversely affected hundreds of artists and cultural workers whose livelihoods depend on income from teaching, performing and participating in cultural activities.”
We certainly are seeing this locally.
The Umpqua Valley Arts Association, which just extended then closed its terrific Faces of the Umpqua Valley exhibit, had to cancel several exhibits, including work by youth from the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians.
Likewise, the Umpqua Actors Community Theatre was forced to postpone for at least two months the musical Mamma Mia.
They are far from alone; the list goes on and on.
We all have our favorite charity/charities, be they social service organization, youth sports league, arts organization, or otherwise.
They need you now to stay afloat. Give what you can, please.