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Local Nonprofits Provide Support When Our Community Needs Them Most

As our communities continue to navigate the challenges and deepening inequities brought on by COVID-19, nonprofit organizations haven’t let up on their commitment to individuals and families. As a nonprofit that exists to supports other nonprofits, the Nonprofit Leadership Center is shining a spotlight on the courageous leadership and innovation of Tampa Bay area nonprofit leaders and organizations. This week, we’re pleased to share stories from four organizations that are helping strengthen our community — and us all.

Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services

In 2019, Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (GCJFCS) launched a pilot program called CHATS that stands for Companionship, Help, and Access by Telephone for Seniors. The program recruits, trains and matches volunteers with local seniors to reduce isolation and loneliness. CHATS pre-arranges calls so that seniors only have to answer the phone at the scheduled date and time. Weekly CHATS conversations last 15 to 30 minutes. Callers talk about a variety of topics, like health and well-being, movies or TV programs of interest, family and friends, etc.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, CHATS was just beginning to ramp up its services after establishing the necessary policies, procedures and program structure to allow it to scale. Now, with social distancing and so many people sheltering in place, caring for and keeping vulnerable community members connected is critical.

There are so many people in the community who are at home and socially isolated. Now, more than ever, there’s a dire need for individuals to reach out to them. I was connected to a recent widow who is still coping with the loss of her husband. After chatting and getting to know one another, we realized we have much in common and this naturally enriched our conversation. I primarily see my role as an empathetic, non-judgmental listener, and a caring friend.”

Susan Traub, CHATS volunteer

Champions for Children

Disasters like the coronavirus put vulnerable children and families at even greater risk. Champions for Children is a nonprofit dedicated to building stronger families in the Tampa Bay region through child abuse prevention and family education programs. Under normal circumstances, the organization provides parent-child playgroups, parenting classes, home visits, in-school education, and more across Hillsborough County. When social distancing became the “new normal,” Champions immediately began delivering most of these services via phone and video chat to help families cope with the unprecedented stress and social isolation of parenting during COVID-19. Families have been eager to receive support and stay connected to other families. Additionally, Champions staff has been distributing supplies via porch pick-ups, porch drop-offs and weekly drive-thru events.

Parents and families participate in virtual sessions with Champions for Children

The Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas

A public health crisis won’t stop the Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas from continuing its efforts to make sure every baby has a healthy start. Home visitors have been able to meet with families through video and teleconferencing. By partnering with community organizations such as Feeding Tampa Bay, Babycycle Diaper Bank and Angels Against Abuse, the Healthy Start team has provided weekly food and basic need deliveries to homebound pregnant women and families with infants in Pinellas County. Families that live in Pinellas County and are expecting or have an infant under age 1 can call the Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas at 727-507-4260 for resources and referrals to community programs.

Heart Gallery of Tampa

A change in any routine – like school closures or separation from friends – can trigger uncomfortable emotions and behaviors for foster children and add stress for foster parents who may also be experiencing economic hardship. In response to COVID-19, the Heart Gallery of Tampa, along with the generous support of donors and friends, has been building and delivering personal care packages with toiletries, activities and meals for the kids and the foster families it serves. They have also been providing birthday party boxes for fun, at-home celebrations so these special milestones aren’t cancelled. Each box includes decorations, gifts, dessert and a gift certificate for pizza,

See more stories of hope and how local nonprofits are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Share Your Story

Do you have a positive nonprofit story you’d like to share with our community? Tell us about it here.

For more information and assistance specific to nonprofits, check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub. To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram

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