Floridian of the 12 months: Florida’s non-profits

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This text initially was revealed within the November challenge of Florida Pattern journal.

Fred Rogers mentioned his mom advised him that in occasions of bother and despair to “search for the helpers.” In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many helpers — from medical doctors and nurses risking their lives caring for sufferers (“COVID-19 Heroes,” pages 12-28) to grocery retailer staff, farmworkers, regulation enforcement officers, supply drivers and different staff for whom staying residence wasn’t an possibility.

Because the economic system unraveled in 2020 amid mass layoffs and uncertainty, a military of helpers in Florida’s nonprofit sector — Florida Pattern’s 2020 Floridian of the 12 months — kicked into excessive gear, delivering meals to the hungry, providing monetary help to the unemployed and offering emotional help, steering and different companies.

Practically 40% of non-profits have skilled an elevated demand for companies over the previous a number of months, in accordance with a survey by the Florida Nonprofit Alliance. Many answered the decision even because the pandemic created huge challenges for his or her organizations — from shrinking swimming pools of volunteers to challenges in elevating cash.

Here’s a sampler of the organizations and teams which have stepped up in the course of the pandemic.

Disaster Help


Calls to the Coronary heart of Florida United Approach’s 211 info and referral disaster line skyrocketed within the spring and are nonetheless up 50 to 100 p.c over pre-pandemic ranges. [Heard of Florida United Way] [ Heart of Florida United Way ]

Calls to the Coronary heart of Florida United Approach’s 211 info and referral disaster line — which covers Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties — have been 4 occasions increased than regular final spring. “It’s nonetheless about 50% to 100% increased on any given day than what our regular quantity is. We’re getting about 1,100 to 1,500 calls” every day, says Jeff Hayward, president and CEO of the Coronary heart of Florida United Approach.

The non-profit has partnered with native governments to get federal Cares Act funds to these in want. It labored with utilities to verify residents didn’t lose their electrical or water service. It additionally launched a $1.9-million COVID-19/ALICE Restoration Fund to offer lease, mortgage and utility help to Central Florida’s “asset restricted, earnings constrained, employed” (ALICE) inhabitants, who stay paycheck to paycheck. Roughly 33% of Floridians fall into the ALICE class and have suffered disproportionately amid the COVID-19 disaster.

The Coronary heart of Florida United Approach’s COVID-19/ALICE Restoration Fund has acquired $17 million in requests from 14,000 people. The help has offered a lifeline for folks like Frank, a Central Florida father of two furloughed from his job as a restaurant supervisor in March (he requested his final title not be revealed). His household exhausted its financial savings inside weeks, and he’s been scraping by filling out on-line surveys in change for reward playing cards. His first unemployment examine didn’t come for 2 months, and his stimulus examine was delayed 4 weeks as a result of the IRS mistakenly despatched it to the checking account of a tax preparation agency he’d beforehand used to file his taxes. In the meantime, “the payments stored creeping up,” he says.

Frank says the month’s value of lease, water and electrical energy (roughly $1,500) he acquired by the COVID/ALICE restoration fund “helped tremendously,” shopping for him extra time. He desires others to know that it’s OK to hunt assist. “Waking up and never understanding what’s going to occur tomorrow, simply the uncertainty is the hardest factor,” he says.

Feeding Florida


The second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has been distributing enough food for 300,000 daily meals.
The second Harvest Meals Financial institution of Central Florida has been distributing sufficient meals for 300,000 every day meals. [ Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida ]

Beneath a superb blue September sky, a pair dozen volunteers in masks type cans of Vienna sausages, luggage of rice, containers of peanut butter and jelly and different meals outdoors the Metro West Church of The Nazarene in Orlando. Greater than 400 vehicles snake across the church’s parking zone and onto busy North Apopka Vineland Highway. Some have been ready since earlier than dawn for a trunk-load of meals from the church’s Herald of Hope Meals Pantry.

Earlier than COVID, the church’s meals pantry served about 150 to 200 folks a month. Now, 400 to 500 vehicles pushed by folks of all ages and backgrounds present up each different Saturday for meals. Solange St. Louis, a church volunteer, greets every driver — particularly newcomers — with a smile and good day. Many are uncomfortable asking for assist, she says. When she sees youngsters contained in the automotive, she throws in an additional bag of rice or two. “It goes quick,” she says.

Dave Krepcho, president and CEO of Second Harvest Meals Financial institution of Central Florida, which provides the meals for the Herald of Hope Meals Pantry and greater than 500 different “feeding companions” throughout a six-county area, says the demand for meals help, like so many issues in 2020, is unprecedented. “I’ve been by many hurricanes with catastrophe aid over time, and this outweighs all of them,” Krepcho says.

Since March, Second Harvest has been distributing sufficient meals for 300,000 every day meals. A button on the group’s web site that individuals can click on to discover a close by meals pantry acquired about 63 clicks a day prepandemic. By mid-March, it was averaging 1,200 clicks. “That finally began to return down,” Krepcho says, however has trended up as furloughs and layoffs spiked within the late summer season and early fall.

It’s the same story throughout the state. Feeding America, a nationwide group that runs 200 meals banks throughout the nation, estimates that 18.7% of Floridians — practically four million folks — are hungry or meals insecure within the wake of COVID. The Manna Meals Financial institution in Pensacola will feed about 35,000 folks this 12 months, up from 19,499 in 2019. Hurricane Sally, which dumped greater than 20 inches of rain on the area in mid-September, “sophisticated issues much more,” says DeDe Flounlacker, govt director of Manna.

All through all of it, the non-profit has needed to make do with fewer assets. Manna’s warehouse, as soon as staffed by 85 folks, had simply 11 staff after the group requested high-risk teams of volunteers 65 and older to remain residence. The group additionally suspended meals donations from the general public and closed its three pantries. “We didn’t understand how lengthy (COVID) would stay on surfaces on the time but additionally to restrict publicity of our staff to the general public … as a result of if considered one of us will get sick and goes down, it’s very attainable all of us must quarantine, so I actually tried to take heed to that,” says Flounlacker.

One other hit got here in Could when the Nationwide Affiliation of Letter Carriers canceled its annual meals drive, which usually offers about 80,000 kilos of meals. With fewer donations, Manna has spent about $100,000 this 12 months on meals.

There’s additionally been an uptick in demand in packages that serve youngsters. The variety of youngsters enrolled in Manna’s Tummy Bundle program — which sends youngsters who attend the Boys & Women Membership after-school program at Montclair Elementary College residence with a bag of meals over the weekend — has greater than tripled. The same program that gives emergency meals provides to homeless youth within the Santa Rosa County College District now serves 25 youngsters, in comparison with 12 earlier.

Manna has additionally partnered with eating places, giving them meals to distribute to laid-off staff and people working fewer hours.

“Typically we’re not going to see waitstaff or bartenders at our pantry or in want, and immediately they wanted the assistance. That’s what COVID has carried out, created an entire new inhabitants of people that need assistance,” says Flounlacker.


Jennifer Jeagley, CEO of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. [St. Petersburg Free Clinic]
Jennifer Jeagley, CEO of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. [St. Petersburg Free Clinic] [ St. Petersburg Free Clinic ]

Jennifer Yeagley, CEO of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, says {that a} busy day pre-COVID may see 120 folks coming to its meals pantry. Immediately, the common minimal variety of folks needing meals is 320 a day. The brand new-patient load on the well being heart, which offers companies for individuals who don’t qualify for Medicaid however don’t make sufficient to afford medical insurance, has grown by 35%. Yeagley says the group’s shelter is already at capability.

All through the disaster, the St. Petersburg Free Clinic has surveyed folks in line for meals to see what introduced them there. “Again in April, once we initially did the surveying, 69% reported they’d misplaced jobs or wages due to COVID. In September, once we requested the identical query, we have been nonetheless at 52%,” she says. Roughly half had by no means visited a meals pantry earlier than.

Yeagley predicts continued excessive demand. “We count on to be in disaster mode for the total fiscal 12 months and as we go, we’re simply going to type of be regrouping quarter by quarter,” she says.

Home Violence


A month after the pandemic broke, the Jacksonville sheriff's deported at 20 percent rise in domestic violence, including at least a dozen homicides.
A month after the pandemic broke, the Jacksonville sheriff’s deported at 20 p.c rise in home violence, together with not less than a dozen homicides. [ Hubbard House ]

When COVID-19 shutdowns went into impact final March, calls to Hubbard Home’s hotline dropped. Gail Patin, CEO of the Jacksonville home violence heart, suspects that victims have been basically trapped at residence with their abusers, unable to achieve out for assist.

After the preliminary quiet interval that accompanied stay-at-home orders, calls elevated about 5%, Patin says, and referrals from regulation enforcement are up. The Jacksonville sheriff’s division reported a 20% uptick in home violence incidents in April. By means of October, there have been a dozen killings. Among the many victims was Ebony Nicholas, a 22-year-old mom of two who was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend on the Jacksonville Amazon achievement heart.

Hubbard House CEO Gail Patin says the community has been very supportive.: "They have heard the message that domestic violence has been on the rise due to the isolation of the pandemic. [Hubbard House]
Hubbard Home CEO Gail Patin says the group has been very supportive.: “They’ve heard the message that home violence has been on the rise because of the isolation of the pandemic. [Hubbard House] [ Hubbard House ]

To offer new avenues for assist, Hubbard Home created a 24-hour textual content hotline so victims might attain out discreetly. The non-profit additionally launched digital companies for victims. Amid the pandemic, “lots have been hesitant to return to our outreach heart and see advocates nose to nose,” Patin says. Now, they’ll log onto a HIPAA-compliant platform and communicate with a sufferer advocate to find out about companies, make a security plan or get counseling. The teleservices have expanded entry for purchasers with out transportation, and Patin plans to proceed them indefinitely. “We needed to do it due to COVID, however now we’re discovering out, wow, that is actually working for some survivors,” Patin says.

Fundraising has been difficult. The group needed to cancel its annual fundraising stroll within the spring, which normally nets about $100,000, and it has shifted its October home violence consciousness month breakfast on-line. “We don’t know precisely how that may influence our fundraising methods. I’ll say Jacksonville tends to be very supportive of Hubbard Home, and so they have heard the message that home violence has been on the rise because of the isolation of the pandemic,” she says. “We nonetheless have our non-public donors who give to us. None of us is aware of what the long run appears like.”

Financial Displacement


Ron Weaver's Real Estate Lives has broadened its scope during the pandemic to help those who have lost jobs find new opportunities.
Ron Weaver’s Actual Property Lives has broadened its scope in the course of the pandemic to assist those that have misplaced jobs discover new alternatives. [ [Times] ]

When the Nice Recession hit in 2008, Ron Weaver, a Tampa actual property lawyer, began strategizing with different native executives within the business. “We had like 30,000 folks out of labor in actual property in Tampa Bay. I mentioned, ‘What have been we going to do about it. What have been we going to do for these hurting on the market?’ “

With help from the CREW Tampa Bay, a neighborhood group of ladies in business actual property, and others, Weaver fashioned Actual Property Lives. It held conferences each two weeks for anybody searching for work — and thru a mix of counseling, free coaching workshops and networking “helped them discover a job wherever it might be discovered.”

Actual Property Lives, which helped about 5,500 folks, is busy once more serving to one other crush of dislocated staff attempt to discover jobs through digital job gala’s and its networking classes. The group additionally gives a 10-week, digital course known as Transition Masters, which offers those that are actively searching for work with mock networking and mock interview follow, compensation negotiation suggestions and assist with social media. Regardless of the moniker, Actual Property Lives isn’t just for folks in the true property business. Anybody can be part of, says Weaver, and the companies are free.

Youngsters’s Companies


Paula Shell says of "little sister" Hope: "I've seen the stress levels weigh her down."
Paula Shell says of “little sister” Hope: “I’ve seen the stress ranges weigh her down.” [ [Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida] ]

The pandemic has proved particularly difficult for organizations whose work revolves round relationships, and Massive Brothers Massive Sisters Northwest Florida continues to be negotiating the terrain. Originally, the company shifted to digital interviews of potential “bigs,” or grownup mentors, and “littles,” youngsters in want of a mentor. So-called “match conferences,” the place mentors and youngsters first meet, additionally went on-line, as did mentoring classes.

Over time, volunteers who really feel snug and children with approval from a guardian or guardian have returned to in-person mentoring that meets CDC pointers. Some bigs, particularly older volunteers, don’t really feel snug but, says President and CEO Paula Shell — and there’s been a rise in “closures,” the place a mentoring relationship is terminated early.

Shell worries in regards to the psychological toll the pandemic is taking over everybody, particularly the children. She says she has seen her personal “little sister,” Hope, battle with digital education and the shut-in way of life. It’s the most secure alternative for Hope’s 90-year-old great-grandfather, who’s elevating her and her brother — however it’s not the identical as being at school and requires a excessive diploma of focus and self-determination. “I’ve seen the stress ranges weigh her down,” says Shell, who tries to assist ease the burden with every day digital check-ins to assist Hope keep on high of her schoolwork.

Shell worries in regards to the a whole bunch of different youngsters her group serves throughout the Florida Panhandle. “If the majority are like what I’m witnessing with Hope, then our youngsters are in bother. I simply hope and pray that we get out of this quickly in order that we will get again to perhaps the best way issues have been,” she says. “Youngsters basically on the market are needing connectivity greater than ever proper now as a result of they haven’t been getting it. They go right into a melancholy, all types of issues. We’re simply seeing the tip of the iceberg with all of it.”

Medical Companies


LifeSouth Community Blood Centers saw an increase in blood donations after it started testing to see if donors had COVID-19 antibodies. [LifeSouth Community Blood Centers]
LifeSouth Neighborhood Blood Facilities noticed a rise in blood donations after it began testing to see if donors had COVID-19 antibodies. [LifeSouth Community Blood Centers] [ LifeSouth Community Blood Centers ]

Research present that solely about 5% of people eligible to donate blood really achieve this — and discovering them within the midst of social distancing has been tough.

Pre-COVID, LifeSouth Neighborhood Blood Facilities in Gainesville counted native school campuses, excessive faculties and enormous employers as key spots for blood drives. However shutdown orders largely eradicated these venues. Laura Bialeck, the blood financial institution’s group growth coordinator for North Florida, remembers reaching out to church buildings and retail facilities early within the pandemic to seek out locations to park the non-profit’s 4 blood mobiles — “not that the enterprise was essentially open, however only a place that’s high-traffic, the place folks might see us,” she says. “That’s how we managed for some time.”

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers community development coordinator Laura Blaleck.
LifeSouth Neighborhood Blood Facilities group growth coordinator Laura Blaleck. [ [LifeSouth Community Blood Centers ]

In late March, after Surgeon Common Jerome Adams issued an announcement calling blood donations “protected” and “important,” donors began displaying up at LifeSouth’s facilities. There was additionally an uptick in visitors after the facilities started testing donors to see if they’d COVID-19 antibodies. “Individuals have been actually taken with that,” Bialeck says. “After all, we’re doing the testing as a result of we have been determined for convalescent plasma donors.”

Convalescent plasma, which accommodates antibodies from the blood of people that’ve recovered from COVID-19, has proven promise in serving to others recuperate. Bialeck says when facilities began testing donors in June, solely 2% have been testing optimistic for COVID-19 antibodies. By the point College of Florida college students started arriving again on the town, the proportion had risen to round 12%.

Challenges stay, nonetheless. Whereas blood mobiles have returned to UF’s campus, they’ll’t arrange blood drives inside dorms as they used to, and the variety of college students on campus continues to be decrease than up to now. Nationwide Insurance coverage’s choice to vacate its places of work and have staff earn a living from home was additionally a giant hit. LifeSouth used to ship its blood cellular there for every week each different month and normally acquired 150 to 160 donors.

The demand for blood, in the meantime, which had dipped for some time as hospitals suspended elective surgical procedures, has resumed. When Bialeck spoke to FLORIDA TREND in early October, the blood financial institution was “desperately in want of O-type blood.”

Psychological Well being Companies


Calls to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay's suicide prevention line rose 17 percent from June through August. [Crisis Center of Tampa Bay]
Calls to the Disaster Middle of Tampa Bay’s suicide prevention line rose 17 p.c from June by August. [Crisis Center of Tampa Bay] [ [Crisis Center of Tampa Bay] ]

The Disaster Middle of Tampa Bay, the group in Hillsborough County that solutions native calls to the 211 group companies line and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, logged greater than 10,000 calls from the tip of February by October from folks affected by the pandemic. The suicide prevention lifeline alone noticed a 17% improve in calls in June by August in comparison with the identical interval in 2019.

The Disaster Middle offers callers with emotional help and connects them to group companies.

In the meantime, the middle’s TransCare Medical Transportation, a supplier of ambulance and medical transport in Hillsborough, collected greater than 11,000 COVID-19 check samples from people through a nasal swab at a number of coronavirus testing websites in Hillsborough.

Monetary help got here from the county, Suncoast Credit score Union, Financial institution of America, Florida Blue, TECO, Gries Funding Funds, United Approach Suncoast and others.

Social Companies


Finding enough drivers during the pandemic to deliver meals to the elderly has been a challenge for the Osceola Council on Aging. [Osceola Council on Aging]
Discovering sufficient drivers in the course of the pandemic to ship meals to the aged has been a problem for the Osceola Council on Getting old. [Osceola Council on Aging] [ Osceola Council on Aging ]

The Osceola Council on Getting old’s grownup day care program offers supervised care and supervision for roughly 78 folks, most of whom are aged and have dementia. It additionally operates a “congregate eating membership,” transporting seniors to 5 websites across the county, the place they’ll share a meal and socialize with others. When COVID hit, the group shifted its eating membership contributors into its Meals on Wheels program and despatched its licensed nursing assistants to the properties of their daycare purchasers. “That was a manner for us to nonetheless preserve that touchpoint, for them to have some consistency,” says Wendy Coschignano-Ford, president and CEO.

The pandemic compelled the group — the most important supplier of social companies in Osceola County — to rethink and retool a lot of its packages. It used to have folks are available in to use for assist from its Low Revenue Heating and Power Help Program. Now, folks can go surfing to fill out varieties and add the required documentation to qualify for assist paying their utility payments. It additionally transitioned its rental help program to the web-based packages. Earlier than the pandemic, the non-profit was doling out about $50,000 to $60,000 a month in utility and rental help. “As quickly as COVID broke out, we have been doing upward of $250,000 to $260,000 a month — and it’s nonetheless persevering with,” says Coschignano-Ford.

Wendy Coschignano-Ford
Wendy Coschignano-Ford [ [Osceola Council on Aging] ]

On the peak of lockdowns, the group’s Meals on Wheels program — which usually delivers 10,000 meals a month — delivered 45,000 meals. As of October, this system was nonetheless offering about 35,000 meals a month. Discovering sufficient drivers to ship the meals proved difficult. “Individuals have been beginning to get their unemployment, and so they have been getting the $600 stimulus, so it was so laborious to recruit folks,” she says.

“We simply pulled collectively. It’s what we do,” she says.

Youth Applications


The Salvation Army's Northwest Community Center in West Palm Beach has more than doubled it's hours for youth programs.
The Salvation Military’s Northwest Neighborhood Middle in West Palm Seashore has greater than doubled it is hours for youth packages. [ [SalvationArmy] ]

Because the pandemic and lockdown took maintain in March, youth packages closed in West Palm Seashore. An exception: The Salvation Military’s Northwest Neighborhood Middle. It shut down for only a week to sanitize the ability after which not solely opened its doorways but additionally greater than doubled its hours, going from an after-school program to working from seven within the morning to nighttime. “We knew if we closed our doorways there can be youngsters who can be negatively impacted,” says Maj. James Corridor, an space commander for Palm Seashore County. Some youngsters had no wifi at residence. Some would don’t have any supervision as mother and father needed to work. “We wished to verify no guardian needed to lose their job to remain residence with the kid,” Corridor says.

The Salvation Military stepped up and adjusted within the pandemic. Its Middle for Hope usually offers housing and companies for as much as 24 homeless veterans. It additionally has six flats for homeless households and likewise offers housing for folks transitioning out of the federal jail system. It stayed open as effectively, giving 150 folks a spot to remain.

Usually, the Military works with 115 folks — on website in housing and off website with help companies — launched by the federal Bureau of Prisons. Within the pandemic, because the bureau lowered the inhabitants density in amenities, the Military elevated its capability to work with 200 newly launched folks.

The Military’s whole county corrections program workers fell sick with the virus. Two have been hospitalized; all recovered. Different Military workers took their place. Corridor moved his workplace to this system website for 2 weeks. “We belief God to maintain us protected,” he mentioned.

The listing of excellent work goes on. When faculties canceled commencements, the Military organized a commencement parade on flatbed vans for highschool grads. “That’s a giant milestone in a group the place you may have a 15% to 20% and better dropout charge,” Corridor says. Meals distribution transformed to a drive-through method. Funding from the Laura & Isaac Perlmutter Basis and the Nelson & Claudia Peltz Household Basis bought meals that Salvation Military vendor Sysco packaged into pre-sorted pallets. Some non-profits had meals however wanted a website from which to distribute, so the Military opened a website within the Northwest facility. “We had strains of vehicles generally three to 5 miles lengthy come by our drive-through,” Corridor says. For the county Emergency Operations Middle and Division of Well being, meals have been carried to the properties or lodge rooms of individuals quarantined due to COVID or different communicable illness. Help with lease and utilities was elevated.

All advised, from March to September, the Military offered 51,547 meals, delivered 513 meals to properties, offered 14,418 nights of housing and debit and reward playing cards to 40 households. Corridor says these numbers understate issues as volunteers generally don’t file all they do. In the meantime, the Military within the county dispatched its canteen and disaster-response truck and volunteers to assist with storm aftermath in Florida’s Panhandle and Texas. “We’ve been working ragged,” Corridor says.

Funds have been powerful. The Quantum Basis, the Neighborhood Basis, the City of Palm Seashore United Approach and others donated $192,362 for COVID-19 aid. Volunteer time and repair equaled one other $115,600. Among the many volunteers: Military staff. “A few of my workers would clock out after which they’d come again and volunteer and make issues occur,” he says.

Between the Military’s Household Shops being shut down by authorities order and a drop in donations, the Salvation Military in Palm Seashore and surrounding counties estimates an total lack of $2 million in donations and better bills thus far. Corridor hoped for an especially good Christmas kettle program, though shops prohibit entry and buyers are on-line. “I firmly consider that when folks know what we’re doing, they’ll help us,” he says.

— By Mike Vogel, Florida Pattern

By The Numbers

Florida’s non-profit sector is comparable in measurement to the state’s development and manufacturing industries, which make use of 6.6% and 5.2% of the inhabitants, respectively.

Florida’s 94,000-plus non-profits …

  • Instantly make use of greater than 629,000, or 6.5% of Florida’s workforce
  • Have an annual payroll of $33 billion
  • Maintain belongings of $259.7 billion
  • Generate $105 billion in annual income
  • Pay a mean hourly wage of $20.21 — 136% of the state’s minimal wage ($8.56)

OMG is continually cementing what Social-First means, the way it positively transforms society over the long-term and most significantly, it have to be the business mannequin companies convert to. The ethics we stay by, form our values and tradition. We’ve made nice strides due to the help we obtain from the general public.



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