Area nonprofits continue to adjust as regulations continue to change due to the coronavirus.
But for the Marietta Community Foundation and the O’Neill Center, things are slowly getting back to “normal.”
Marietta Community Foundation
Mason Beuhring, the foundation’s communications and program services director, said things have not slowed down much for the organization.
“When we complete a project, we’re geared up and ready for the next one,” he said.
While COVID-19 was unexpected, they tried to take an approach to combat any negative effects. The foundation’s three-pronged plan was to support schools, seniors and nonprofits, but now, a major focus is helping low-income children through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.
With the closing of the Secret Santa program by the Washington-Morgan Community Action, the needs of low-income children would be greater this Christmas.
All year, though, the foundation has worked to strengthen its services for local organizations and nonprofits.
“It’s sharpened us a lot more,” Beuhring said. “The situation that 2020 has brought upon the foundation has put responses in place that it normally wouldn’t have.”
He said it’s strengthened the foundation and the services they provide.
“When COVID hit, it hit during the spring cycle and it had to be put on hold,” he said, noting they tried to head issues off as soon as they could to provide funds for COVID-related expenses.
“We received a lot of requests from fire departments and we let them and nonprofits know we’re here to help to the best of our ability,” he added.
Last year, they hit a record amount of money put back into the community and Beuhring said he’s not sure if this year will top it.
“It’s going to be close,” he said. “We’ve given out a significant amount throughout 2020.”
The foundation maintains broad categories across Washington County to help as many people as possible. Beuhring said they’ve helped with issues surrounding seniors as well as food insecurity for both seniors and children.
“We help fill needs people feel passionate about,” he noted.
“It’s been exciting to see the community come together,” he said. “People know they can contact us and we’ll help combat needs they face in Washington County.”
A long-standing Washington County institution, the O’Neill Center was closed from mid-March until Sept. 21, but is hoping to continue its mission of helping area seniors.
Connie Huntsman, executive director, said their mission is to help seniors live HIP (Healthy, Independent and Productive) lives, and they have been able to pivot their services to meet seniors’ needs.
“Food insecurity was difficult for people,” Huntsman explained, as people had to limit their trips outside the home.
The center did grocery box deliveries every other week, as well as delivering meals from restaurants to seniors’ homes.
“It was absolutely amazing the comments from seniors who said they were scared and were able to get meals,” she said. “The meals were delivered safely, keeping safety a priority.”
With every change in the community, from a spike in cases to a change from yellow to orange on the COVID map, the center was able to adapt and overcome.
Both staff and visitors are to wear masks at the center, but they are now able to hold events with a maximum group size of 10. Huntsman said it is a state requirement that staff members have a COVID test every two weeks.
“It’s just one more way to make certain our employees are safe,” she noted.
She said adult day care is on hold, but will resume in January. Plexiglass dividers have been set up and they will assure social distancing.
“I know 2021 will not start out easy, but it will be part of our new normal. We’re doing things in a staged approach and adjust our services to mitigate risk,” Huntsman explained.
The community has responded to requests to help the center, as a Giving Tuesday fundraiser brought in $1,175. She said these get turned into service dollars, “and the impacts keep increasing.”
Some of the activities held during December include:
¯ Virtual Exercise with Nancy on Mondays;
¯ Gentle yoga with a limited class size on Tuesdays;
¯ Virtual Cooking with Becky on Wednesdays;
¯ Crafts with Nancy on Fridays; and
¯ Virtual Tap n’ Burn, which is a cardio tap class focusing on basic tap steps.
“We have exercise at least twice a week and massages are back in play,” Huntsman replied. “There’s just a variety of things happening. For those uncomfortable, virtual activities are a good way to stay involved.”
Michele Newbanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.