I may be late to the content game as it relates to COVID-19 responses, and even more so to starting this blog on my website. But I thought now is a better time than ever to start a blog as a community development professional.
As many others have done, I have been working closely with a vast array of community stakeholders to address the emergency needs of the community I live in. I am not talking about the toilet paper shortage or keeping up with the COVID-19 count for my state (thankfully we have others focusing on these very real issues). I am talking about the immediate, individualized needs of my community. Over the past 2 weeks, I have noticed three very important actions emerge.
Keep in mind that every community has its own unique challenges, but more than likely your community can benefit from these suggestions.
1. Talk to as many stakeholders as possible to leverage crisis response funds.
As we know, one of the largest barriers in community program implementation is LACK OF FUNDING. Let me tell you, in this time of such emergent need, the community is really turning into something beautiful (a very welcomed positive in the state of the world as we know it right now).
One of the local township offices just opened up donations for their “Angel Fund” and in just a few short days the donations have provided nearly $10,000 to help individuals at risk of homelessness.
The local United Way and Community Foundation teamed up to offer area partners funding to address the needs of individuals in the community. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your large local funding agents!
Using the Nextdoor app, I have helped increase these funds and have seen a great sense of community and many individuals willing to give – NOW!
2. Partnerships are important.
Before checking with your local United Way or Community Foundation, do your partnership leg work. What do I mean about this? Band together with other organizations to identify the most emergent needs in your local community (remember-these are individualized) and come up with a response plan. These partnerships will leverage your ability to secure the funding needed to address your community’s needs.
I know you are thinking… this should be happening anyway. Well, you know how your development plan included that section on building and strengthening partnerships? Now is the time to implement that part of the plan… and fast! I promise these partnerships go a very long way. I am already seeing it in my local community with the very programs that I manage!!
3. Stay calm – we are the leaders of our communities!
Yes, this is a given. Perhaps we, more than anyone, need to remain calm and rational in this state of crisis. Our clients, staff, board, and community members are looking to us for answers and thought leadership. We are right there along with the first responders and medical professionals during this public health crisis.
WHAT NOT TO DO…
Do not panic! Keep pushing forward – your community is counting on you!
Do not keep information to yourself. Share information, share insight, share solutions!
Do not give up!