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Nonprofits Face The Challenge Of Surviving While Serving During COVID-19


COVID-19 is affecting nonprofits that help people in need. About 40 million people nationwide have filed for unemployment during the pandemic — meaning many nonprofits will likely face their biggest challenges yet.

Justin Martin talked about this with Leah King, president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County.

The Scope Of The Crisis

We're seeing tens of thousands of people that are struggling to eat. We're seeing the same numbers of people that are really at risk of losing their housing and becoming homeless.

So, those very, very basic vital needs that people have to sustain themselves and their family are being stretched and tested in a way that we've not seen before.

The problem with that is we were already not doing very well, quite frankly within our area, there were lots of people that were already on the edge and that were struggling. When you add on the inability to work, it just compounds that and that makes those challenges far greater than anybody could ever anticipate. 

Forming A Team To Help Seniors In North Texas

We have a very close relationship with organizations like Meals On Wheels, Sixty And Better and many others; guardianship services that work directly with older adults. When we saw this shut down happening, it meant that some of the services that our older adults are usually able to take advantage of weren't going to be available.

We were able to expand what the meals on wheels operation was doing. I gotta tell you, they serve more than 5,000 people a day on a regular day. So when they were hit with this crisis, their requests went up, you know, almost 20% each week, and so we knew we had to bring additional resources to that organization.

Well, it just so happened that Catholic Charities had some excess capacity on their transportation services because, you know, let's think about it. If people aren't able to go to work or there fewer people are going to the doctor, they've got people that are not driving those buses and vans that they have.

So we said, well, how about we get those buses and vans over to the meals on wheels facility, load them up with food and that excess capacity that you have is then put to work and we can start to help the additional individuals that need support.

Facebook Helping Out

It's just been tremendous. They supported us with a $150,000 grant to help us to get food on the tables of students and their families to make sure that nobody goes hungry, especially during the eight week, summer period.

Interview highlights have been edited for clairty.

This story is part of the KERA News series "One Crisis Away: Cornavirus And Life On The Financial Edge."

Got a tip? Email Justin Martin at Jmartin@kera.org . You can follow Justin on Twitter @MisterJMart .

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Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.