Nonprofits aren’t usually regarded as innovative, fresh-thinking enterprises. But in a year like 2020, we see clearly how our best nonprofits can adapt on the fly to meet our community’s needs.
The SA Hope Center started in 2001 as one of the West Side’s largest food pantries and free clothing racks. The Hope Center has since grown to offer job readiness, financial coaching, parenting courses, and holistic one-on-one case management.
Then, when the pandemic hit, the center had to adjust its operations on the fly.
“We saw all these schools closing—we know that kids get a lot of their meals from school,” said Megan Legacy, Chief Executive Officer of the SA Hope Center. “We saw the restaurants shut down—we knew that most of our families (work) in the hospitality and hotel business. So, like immediately, there are families that live in our zip codes who lost jobs and whose kids didn’t have access to lunch at school.”
They split their workers into two teams: One just to handle food distribution, the other to continue their case management workloads over the phone.
The long lines have subsided (for now), but the SA Hope Center is still finding new challenges during the pandemic. Like so many nonprofits, they were forced to cancel their yearly luncheon that brings in unrestricted cash to pay for agency operations.
Most big donors want to give money for food, which, of course, is needed. But there are other critical needs.
“We also need money for recovery,” Legacy said. “We need to help families get jobs. We need to help families become resilient longer term.”
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