Meeting the Moment Sometimes Calls for a Rest
Maryland Nonprofits, like so many organizations in our sector, has been working on high-alert for the last 18 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (See Annual Report). The disproportionate impact of COVID on Black and Latino people and the national reckoning on race have made our response not just about the crisis itself, but about much bigger systemic problems that have gone unaddressed for too long. The sense of urgency has been constant as the nature of the pandemic changes, and as the need for the work we do – the advocacy, racial equity work, strategic planning, fundraising, and the like – have grown exponentially. We are proud that we have been “meeting the moment,” a moment that has lasted much longer than anyone anticipated, and our team has been working flat out. As the CEO of a nonprofit, I can say that I am exhausted and so are our staff.
To gather our strength, we decided to close our office for a full week, for the first time in our history. Not all nonprofits have this option because they care for people 24/7. For our organization, having everyone off at the same time is the reset that we need. Our office will therefore be closed from August 30, 2021 to September 6, 2021.
It feels like we have to climb Mount Everest all over again, and a storm washed out our base camp.
We all felt a sense of hope and optimism this May/June of 2021 as the vaccination campaign brought COVID cases way down and the American Rescue Plan Act promised ample funding for recovery.
The rapid rise of the COVID-19 delta variant makes us feel like we are right back in the early days of the pandemic. We are seeing that Maryland has counted more than 7,000 cases and 76 deaths among fully vaccinated people (See COVID dashboard). There is so much we don’t yet know about what the delta variant is capable of and how it will impact communities. It reminds me of when we first learned that asymptomatic people could spread COVID – our whole calculation changed. We have therefore announced that all our programs will be virtual through the end of 2021. We are an organization that can safely achieve our mission remotely, and we feel this is the best contribution we can make to the safety of our nonprofit colleagues who must work in person.
The early excitement about ARPA funding has now come to some level of exasperation as we try to navigate dozens of governmental agencies, 24 counties, and 161 municipalities to figure out how nonprofits and communities can access the funding.
It feels like we have to climb Mount Everest all over again, and a storm washed out our base camp! We need to recharge so we can prepare for an unknown amount of time that will be as intense as the last 18 months. Taking a full week off for our whole team to rest seems like the best way for us to hit get ready for the challenges that lie ahead. For our members and partners, we hope you will be patient with us as we take this strategic breather. Thank you for all you do.
By Heather Iliff, President & CEO, Maryland Nonprofits