Question: For many nonprofits, the pandemic’s economic impact squeezed them in between increased demand for their services and decrease in income coupled with physical operational limitations. How has your organization responded to these challenges in order to continue to serve its mission?
Chief Operations Officer
Homeless Youth Connection
Like a number of nonprofits, we have had long-time funders not able to support us financially this past year; we hope they will be able to return in the future. We have been incredibly fortunate to have new donors step forward to support our work during the pandemic.
Our greatest challenge from the pandemic is the way we provide services to youth experiencing homelessness. We usually meet with youth while they are attending school, to provide resources and basic needs. We have seen a significant reduction in the number of youths referred to our program. That primarily is because the youth we serve are not enrolled in school; they are no longer participating in school or remote learning — they have experienced too many obstacles due to the pandemic. These youth are falling through the cracks. We know without their high school diploma they will face even more difficult obstacles. We are responding to this pandemic development by implementing an outreach initiative to connect with youth experiencing homelessness and help them to get re-enrolled in school and to graduate.
Dana Bailey is the chief operations officer at Homeless Youth Connection and oversees HYC’s ongoing program and human resource operations, as well as directing marketing, communications and fundraising strategies for the organization. Bailey has worked in nonprofit, government and private-sector environments, and has more than 30 years of experience in project development and management, team building, strategic implementation and special event management.
Becky Bell Ballard
Chief Executive Officer
Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children
Rosie’s House serves as a safe afterschool space for our students who face significant challenges due to their socio-economic situations. Prior to the pandemic, many students took public transportation from their neighborhoods to our free afterschool music program, but as all activities were pushed to online, our students now face additional hurdles for participation.
The pandemic has exposed the inequities that have long been below the surface, especially the digital divide. Rosie’s House families often share one device, typically a phone, dividing time between parents’ needs and siblings’ classes. Learning music virtually, which requires teacher and student to be able to listen and respond, is a challenge.
Rosie’s House is actively and creatively responding: donors are stepping forward to provide computers, instructors are adapting methods for on-line, and staff is providing students time for social interaction. Parents have expressed what a life-line Rosie’s House is to their children and the entire family, a bright spot to relieve the pressures of isolation and stress from the pandemic. At this time, we are seeking the additional funds necessary to help us continue our mission of changing lives through music.
As CEO of Rosie’s House, Becky Ballard finds solutions to address the disparity in access to music education. She combines creativity with strategy and has grown the local nonprofit into one of the largest free afterschool music programs nationwide. Ballard is actively involved with Valley Leadership, of which she is a Class 37 graduate. Her life’s mission is to make sure all kids have the creative experiences they need to blossom.
The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated just how fragile our food system is and how many people are only one paycheck away from experiencing food insecurity.
At the onset of the pandemic, Waste Not rapidly increased its efforts to pick up excess perishable food from businesses that were forced to close abruptly — ensuring it wouldn’t go to waste and, instead, getting it to the people who needed it most.
When more than 64% of our nonprofit partners reported an increased need for food donations, we quickly scaled our low-contact food rescue program by leveraging technology to match food donations with nearby nonprofits and mobilizing community volunteers to make the pick-up and delivery connections.
In 2020, we diverted 1,427 tons of good food from local l andfills, which equates to nearly 3 million meals delivered! At the heart of this work are our strong partnerships with the businesses we collect food from, the nonprofits we deliver meals to, and generous donors who make it all possible.
Kate Thoene is the executive director at Waste Not, a hunger relief organization that collects food that would otherwise go to waste and delivers it at no cost to more than 90 nonprofit partner agencies. Thoene has more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership, program management and social enterprise experience here in The Valley and currently serves on the boards of directors of three local nonprofits: Big Brothers Big Sisters, ONE – Organization for Nonprofit Executives and Social Enterprise Alliance AZ.