SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The coronavirus is hitting nonprofit organizations with a double whammy: more vulnerable people, especially the homeless, need services but at the same time, the issue of social distance is stopping major fundraising efforts.
Union Mission, for example, has canceled its annual event “Raising Hope” which was scheduled for April 24 at the DeSoto Savannah. The nonprofit works to end homelessness through housing and supportive services.
Patricia Lundquist, executive director of Union Mission, says while major donors have still provided their pledges for the event, the group has also historically brought in a lot of money on the night of Raising Hope.
“Now that is lost, so we will be looking for ways to make that up,” she told News 3.
Lundquist says anyone who wants to help can donate online. She also indicated they are in need of toiletry items such as razors and shaving cream, etc. for those in their men’s shelter.
“We provide services to people who are homeless right off the streets through our emergency services and then the permanent supportive housing which is housing for the formerly homeless,” she said.
The organization says for a group of mothers with children, it is now providing extra food because of school closures. She says layoffs may push people living on the edge in motels into homelessness.
So at a time when the need for their services — and that of other organizations that serve the homless and needy is growing — they are facing losses in community support.
“I think we are in a similar place to everyone else,” Lundquist said. “We are working to take this one day at a time because there is so much uncertainty.”
She believes the uncertainty is not only tough on the general population but particularly difficult on a vulnerable population, like the homeless or those who are working to transition out of homelessness.
“We provide case mangement, mental health counseling for those people because they are the most vulnerable in our society and they are people that could end up being homeless again,” said Lundquist.
She also says the need for social distancing means they can serve fewer people in permanent shelters.
“I know Savannah is a very generous community and so I know as a nonprofit we’ll pull through this,” Lundquist said. “But it’s going to be difficult.”