Susan*, a single mom with two children, temporarily lost her job as a waitress when the pandemic hit and was evicted from her basement apartment because she could no longer pay her rent. She didn’t qualify for unemployment and her ex-husband, who also lost his job, was no longer required to pay child support. The family was forced to move into a motel which they also couldn’t afford.
“We have also seen an increase in clients that are at-risk for homelessness and since we don’t have a shelter, our motels have filled up with families who have lost their jobs and homes due to COVID,” said Crystal Dumas, the founder & executive director of Just HOPE, a community outreach agency focused on the displaced, homeless, and those without reliable transportation.
She shared that clients are needing help with past due bills, groceries, higher utility bills, unexpected expenses related to children’s virtual schooling, etc.
Susan’s story has had a happy ending thanks to support from Just HOPE, The Advocacy Center of Davie County, the Salvation Army, and a couple of local churches. Dumas helped her enroll in a hybrid CNA program at Mount Eagle College & University in Winston Salem through the agency’s Women LEAD program which helps women receive the training or education needed to establish a career. Susan completed her online classes in Just Hope’s interactive resource center and is now a certified CNA at a local care facility and hopes to go back to school to become a nurse. Her family has been able to move into a home of their own.
Sadly, Dumas sees situations like this every day. Before the pandemic, Just HOPE, was serving 187 families with case management, thrift store vouchers, referrals, and motel meals. Now the community outreach agency is serving 293.
I am seeing so many people in bad situations at no fault of their own, Dumas added. People in Davie County desperately need help. They have lost their jobs, they have been evicted from their homes, many of them are hungry. Lots of people didn’t qualify for unemployment or have been waiting for months for a check. They can’t wait months for state or federal assistance. They need our help now.
COVID has exacerbated the issues we typically see, explained Lisa Foster, executive director of Family Promise of Davie County. “Families that are at-risk of and already experiencing homelessness are still in crisis and even more so now. More than 14 million American households are at risk of eviction. Eviction moratoriums will be ending and families that have lost income due to COVID are multiple months behind on rent. We are gearing up for an influx in emergency financial rental assistance needs in 2021.”
During a crisis, non-profit organizations like Just HOPE and Family Promise are on the front lines and expected to do much more, typically with fewer resources. The ongoing pandemic is having a profound effect on our community and these organizations need our support now to be able to continue to serve our children, families, and the community during these extraordinary times. This year funding has been even more strained since COVID restrictions forced many organizations to cancel their annual fundraisers, and early 2021 isn’t looking any better. For many organizations, funds have reached a critical low.
Just HOPE had a goal of $20,000 for its Denim & Pearls benefit that had to be cancelled in November. Early COVID shutdowns also cost them two months of revenue from the thrift store which helps run their programs. Now the agency is struggling to figure out how to replace that funding.
“We have applied for extra COVID grants but not enough to cover the entire loss,” said Dumas.
“We will just have to serve less clients for now and continue to make the most out of every penny donated. We have also attempted an end of the year mailing campaign to ask for donations but haven’t seen much come of it…COVID has made even our loyal donors a little more timid with contributions due to the uncertainty the virus has caused. We will continue to do what we can, with what we have…until we can do more.”
“COVID has impacted every facet of our organization from how we serve families to how we fundraise,” said Foster. They also cancelled their in-person fundraiser, which typically raises $50,000 and switched to a virtual/mail campaign. They held their annual silent auction online. They are hopeful for an in-person 2021 fundraiser to help them get back on track.
COVID has also caused them to have to get creative in how they operate. “We’ve temporarily paused our rotational shelter model, as all of our host congregations are still closed. We’ve sheltered families at our day center, we’ve utilized motels, launched a transitional housing program, increased staffing for our graduate support program, and increased funding for emergency financial rental assistance. In 2021, we are looking into temporarily re-purposing a vacant church to provide shelter and expand our stock of transitional housing units,” said Foster. These alternatives have cost additional funds and caused the organization to dig deeper into its reserve funds.
Both organizations are thankful for the support they have received from the Davie County COVID-19 Response Fund which was established in March by the Davie Community Foundation and the Mebane Charitable Foundation to support local non-profit organizations and agencies that are meeting the immediate needs created by the coronavirus. Each foundation contributed $50,000 to start the fund which has also received donations from the community.
Other grant recipients include Davie High Hunger Fighters, Rescue House, Davie Pregnancy Care, Salvation Army, CARes Project, Davie Family YMCA, Cancer Services, Davie County Schools, and Smart Start of Davie County.
“The fund was set up with one main goal, and that is to be there for our community and non-profits, as new needs continue to arise in the coming days and months,” said Larry Colbourne, president of the Mebane Foundation.
“I would encourage people to give to the non-profits and agencies who are trying to stay alive to serve our community,” said Jane Simpson, president & CEO of the Davie Community Foundation president and CEO. She also pointed out that donations made in a loved one’s honor or memory make wonderful, meaningful gifts. “Gifts of all sizes make a difference and can help provide an important lifeline to someone in need.”
Click on the links to learn more about some of Davie County’s non-profit organizations or to make a donation.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted last spring, includes several temporary tax changes helping charities, including the special $300 deduction designed especially for people who choose to take the standard deduction, rather than itemizing their deductions.
Cash donations of up to $300 per individual tax filer or $600 per married couple made before December 31, 2020, are now deductible when people file their taxes in 2021. This means the deduction lowers both adjusted gross income and taxable income – translating into tax savings for those making donations to qualifying tax-exempt organizations.
Cash donations include those made by check, credit card or debit card. They don’t include securities, household items or other property. Though cash contributions to most charitable organizations qualify, some do not. Check Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, and the TEOS for more information.