Page 4 - BusinessWest/Healthcare News 2021 Giving Guide
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The Challenges Mount
For Area Nonprofits, Social Needs Rise While Funding Slows
By Joseph Bednar
Earlier this year, United Way of Hampshire County helped the city of Northampton find dozens of people to
set up and operate a shelter at Northampton High School, which was closed at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the United Way recruited 86 vol- unteers, two of whom worked every shift, for six to eight hours, for two months last winter.
“One volunteer wanted to do more than serve coffee in the hallway,” said Loren Davine, a vol- unteer coordinator. That’s how the Kind Café was born. “She created a designated coffeehouse in the cafeteria and served up hot cocoa, mochas, and pastries to guests.
“After a few weeks, our volunteers started con- necting with the guests,” Davine added, noting the shelter was soon at capacity, with 55 guests on any given day. “What started as a coffee cart
“We’re meeting a dramatic increase in food insecurity among our neighbors — many of whom are needing help for the first time during the pandemic.”
became a whole café downstairs. It felt like you were in a coffee shop.”
Now, United Way of Hampshire County is seeking volunteers to help run a newly opened homeless shelter operated by ServiceNet and located in downtown Northampton. Volunteers can do everything from setting up cots to serving coffee and imagining activities that shelter guests can take part in.
However, finding volunteers seems more chal- lenging for nonprofits than in past years, as the pandemic has not only exposed higher levels of need in the community, but it’s also pulling long- time volunteers in other directions. Meanwhile, Davine said, many older adults who normally volunteer cannot do so because they are at risk.
If there’s a message being shared by nonprof- its this season, it’s that need for their services have only increased, at a time when it’s more difficult than usual to raise funds because of the widespread impact of COVID-19 on individuals and businesses alike.
Those nonprofits have already had to be cre- ative and flexible this year just to keep operating. The Northampton Survival Center had to restruc- ture its operations in real time to keep serving the community as safely as possible, Executive Director Heidi Nortonsmith said.
“We’re meeting a dramatic increase in food insecurity among our neighbors — many of whom are needing help for the first time during the pandemic,” she noted. “Financial donations allow us to be here every day for those who are vulnerable — providing nutritious groceries, toiletries, referral information, and a welcome
MHA’s Cheryl Fasano (left) and Kim Lee (right) review creative messaging for Giving Tuesday with Rudy D’Agostino, partner with Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.
relief from isolation and uncertainty.”
Before the pandemic, Cancer Connection in Northampton hummed with people talking indi- vidually or in groups, dancing to music in a movement class, lying down and receiving acu- puncture or massage, and even playing harmonica together in a class taught by a participant who wanted to give back.
Now, in-person servic-
es are currently paused.
But clients can still take
advantage of music,
movement, and mindful-
ness programs through
videoconferencing. The
center has temporarily
retooled its integrative
therapies, with Reiki,
reflexology, and mas-
sage therapists providing sessions via telehealth focused on calming strategies. Its support groups also continue through remote technology.
Typically, Cancer Connection funds these
free services with the proceeds from its entre- preneurial arm, the Cancer Connection Thrift Shop, and gifts, grants, and fundraising events. However, “this is anything but a typical year,” Executive Director Beverly Herbert said. “We face an emergency, which I don’t say lightly. A serious
        Heidi Nortonsmith displays some of the fresh produce available at the Northampton Survival Center’s food pantry — a critical resource in a time of growing food insecurity.
 financial gap, like that faced by other area non- profits, has been caused by the pandemic-related closure of our Thrift Shop for five months, March through July, and event cancellations. We have been working hard since August to raise $250,000 to close the gap.”
The Thrift Shop reopened Aug. 5 to high
Continued on page 40
 38 DECEMBER 2020
Staff Photo
Staff Photo

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