Nonprofit organizations try to find a way through coronavirus crisis

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Habitat for Humanity Restore
Nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity in Temecula are looking for ways to continue to help the communities they serve despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Nonprofit organizations in southwest Riverside County are accustomed to providing services to the community’s most vulnerable, working face to face and shoulder to shoulder with the people they aim to help and the volunteers that pitch in.

When guidelines and stay-at-home orders were issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom, March 19, the impact of that order meant the work planned to be done by nonprofits would come to a screeching halt.

“COVID-19 has, and will have, a profound impact on Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley and the entire nonprofit sector in general,” Tammy Marine, executive director for Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley, said. “With postponed fundraising efforts and a community already stunned and financially impacted, this crisis has the ability to break us.

“However, every challenge also holds opportunities and we are staying steadfast to find innovative ways we can fill needs during this unprecedented period of time,” she said. “During my discussions with staff this week one of the most heartwarming comments I heard repetitively was ‘What can we do? How can we help?’ That mentality is who we are and although we may be forced to adjust our sails, that is what we will continue to do.”

Rose Again Foundation CEO Rhonda Reinke said the shutdowns have already put a dent in the fundraising efforts for the nonprofit that works with foster youth, adults and foster families.

Reinke said a byproduct of the shutdown is the issues that face the foster youth and adults they serve.

“The biggest need is with our emancipated foster youth because there’s six in particular that we’re serving right now, they go to school, they go to college or trade school,” Reinke said. “But all of those are shut down. So they’re remotely doing that, but out of the six, their incomes, they have less hours or they’re not working because of the crisis. So here’s the individuals who are on their own, no family for support and guidance or a safe place to go stay if you lose your home.

“What we have been doing with them is providing food and we’ve been reaching out to the community for donations for that. I just had some food and laundry detergent, those types of things dropped off at my front door today. And we are asking for people that want to donate to go online and donate so that we can continue to serve them. Some of them are gonna really struggle to pay their rent. They are definitely living paycheck to paycheck.”

Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley has two ReStores that raises money for the nonprofit year-round and serves the community by providing low-cost home improvement supplies. Marine said the stores are in high demand and they will soon reopen, but in the meantime, they have moved the stores online at https://www.inlandvalleyrestore.com with free delivery.

“Soon we’ll be sharing the details on a delivery program providing essential items to seniors, cancer patients and others in need for Riverside County,” Marine said.

So far, Reinke said, supporters are coming to the aid of the children in their foster programs, but more is always needed.

“We also have an immediate need for laptops for a lot of our foster kids because they’re having to work from home,” she said. “We have one foster family who has five foster-adopt kids. They had six kids at home and one computer, and everyone’s supposed to be doing their schoolwork at home. We were able to help with some laptops for them and for a couple of other families as well.

“Then after posting about that, someone showed up at my door with three brand-new laptops to help. I have to say the community itself has continued to respond and help us,” Reinke said.

Marine hopes that trend will continue.

“Don’t forget about the nonprofit community,” she said. “We need your support like never before and please know we are here to provide the services needed to get people through these tough times.

“I hope our mission of providing affordable housing comes into full focus both now, and after, we get through this crisis,” she said. “I think everyone would agree that never, in the history of time, has the word ‘home’ been more important. We need to do more to provide decent, affordable housing for everyone.”

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.