SMITH: Nonprofits need support from local leaders
Dear Local Elected Leaders:
In planning for the upcoming Greater Valdosta United Way campaign, we took a look back at the past year.
During the pandemic, many were not working or working from home, working harder than ever. Local nonprofits were forced to cancel annual fundraisers. Essential workers such as health care workers were at times overwhelmed with the number of COVID-19 cases.
Second Harvest was working long hours trying to ensure families had food all across South Georgia. While schools were closed, they created ways to ensure children had a good nutritious meal.
Mental health workers worked tirelessly to offer support to those who lost jobs and loved ones. Partnership Health Center provided no-cost medical care to the elderly and homeless.
Even though nonprofits saw their financial resources challenged by the loss of fundraising events, they continued to provide services.
Salvation Army, The Haven, and LAMP stayed open and provided shelter, clothing, and comfort to the most vulnerable. LARC was the first-day center to reopen to allow people with disabilities to have a familiar, safe place to go. The Boys and Girls Club and YMCA opened as fast as possible to provide summer programs, learning, and child care for essential workers.
We have seen that essential workers are a large group of people that we need daily to keep our community and country running.
I truly encourage local leaders to show support to these agencies along with others in the human service sector. Agency expenses skyrocketed with sanitization costs and demand for services, while fundraisers dried up and volunteers couldn’t participate.
PPP was crucial for nonprofits, but some continued support is needed.
We have a great caring community, but these issues are bigger than what fundraisers and donor relations can solve. We have to encourage the government, businesses, and nonprofits to work together. Give resources to the professionals that can give hope and healing to the vulnerable. The American Rescue Plan and CARES funding was approved for this purpose. We have to build out our infrastructure in information and empathy along with sewer and broadband.
Please don’t just make government agencies and programs whole without thinking bigger. This money needs to be used to benefit many people in the short and long term. I understand there are strict requirements for taxpayer money and how it can be spent.
The Greater Valdosta United Way would be honored to discuss this more and talk about ways to show support to the agencies, staff, and programs that help ease suffering. They rose to the challenge and are the bedrock for a healthy community.
We are Stronger Together.
Michael Smith is the chief executive officer of Greater Valdosta United Way.