Our nonprofit sector is working long hours to meet community needs during this incredibly challenging time. To avoid burdening our grant recipients further with interview requests, we are providing the following stories of several nonprofit response efforts. We hope to showcase more of our nonprofits’ incredible work through additional articles on our website at a later date.
BY SAM WATERSTONE
As it did to so many other nonprofits around the country, the arrival of COVID-19 in our communities forced the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mid-Central Coast (BGCMCC) to halt all normal operations, including their youth development programs for children and teens.
Determined to keep their members engaged, BGCMCC launched a virtual club platform, utilizing a private group on Facebook, that features daily activities and videos. Since the closure of physical club locations on March 16, nearly 100 youth users have joined the BGCMCC virtual club group and are participating daily.
In addition to virtual programming, BGCMCC quickly developed a COVID-19 Operations Plan in response to the crisis impacting California’s Central Coast. Because BGCMCC is a regional chapter that operates clubs in both northern Santa Barbara County (Guadalupe and Santa Maria) and San Luis Obispo County (Atascadero, Paso Robles, and Shandon), their response effort includes partnerships with organizations in both counties. These partnerships primarily focus on providing food and other essential support for individuals and families in need.
“Within a week [of closing our club sites], we formed a collaborative partnership with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County to serve as an emergency food distribution center at our Railroad club site in Santa Maria,” said Jeremy Deming, CEO at BGCMCC. “Since then, we have served approximately 1,200 community members weekly – and growing – via this new program.”
BGCMCC is also collaborating with the SLO County Foodbank to provide operational support at various locations in SLO County where emergency food distribution is taking place.
“Many of the individuals seeking food security have never utilized the Foodbank or depended on assistance from safety net programs in the past,” Deming continued. “The COVID-19 crisis has wiped out thousands of local area jobs, creating an increased demand for these types of services. We are proud to be partnering with like-minded organizations to resolve some of our community’s most pressing needs during the crisis.”
Another new partnership, this time involving the Foodbank and the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, has converted BGCMCC’s Evans Park club site in Santa Maria into a collection center for much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers throughout the region.
In addition to their critical work on the ground, BGCMCC staff is also busy securing new sources of funding to support their emergency operations.
“We have received word from a few of our major funders and grantors that they will be holding off on their commitments to BGCMCC this year due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Deming. “We expect more of those notifications in the months ahead. To combat this challenge, we have been steadily applying to various funders who are offering emergency COVID-19 related funding opportunities.”
The Santa Barbara Foundation provided BGCMCC with a COVID-19 response grant, and is proud to support them as they continue to find new and innovative ways to support individuals and families in need.
To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mid-Central Coast or to donate to their COVID-19 response effort, visit: bgccentralcoast.org