March 23, 2021
How nonprofits are helping workers cope with pandemic fatigue
A year into the pandemic, nonprofit workers are struggling. Here’s what leaders and foundations can do to help.
by Jim Rendon, senior writer, The Chronicle

When the pandemic struck last year, everything changed for Amanda Correa, a patient-service coordinator at the Family Health Centers of San Diego. The number of patients the group saw skyrocketed. At many nonprofits, staff were able to work remotely, but that wasn’t an option for Correa and her co-workers. They were needed in person to help with the crushing patient needs driven by the pandemic.

Almost immediately, about 10 percent of the organization’s 2,000 employees left because of health concerns and family conflicts. Sometimes Correa had to cover shifts for others and complete administrative work after her own shifts, resulting in some 13-hour workdays. She has worked at the $200 million nonprofit community health group for 18 years. She loves her job and the people she serves. Doing everything she could to help came naturally.

“I was trying to do every part of the administration, the reports and everything,” she says. “It was crazy for me.”

Correa struggled to find time to help her then 7-year-old son with school. At the end of August, she contracted Covid. The virus raced through her extended family, killing her mother.

“It’s been hard,” she says. “I have to be a mom, a wife, a worker, everything.”

Over the past year, the whole staff has been working as hard as possible under trying personal and professional circumstances, says Fran Butler-Cohen, the organization’s CEO. Last spring, it was unable to get masks for its staff, so it manufactured its own. Scheduling flexibility for staff now allows Correa to spend mornings with her son, which makes it possible for her to keep working. The group even started a day care center and food pantry for staff.

“I went through the HIV epidemic where we had patients dying every week, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” Butler-Cohen says.

Over the past year, charities have responded to the historic crisis, reinventing themselves overnight and providing desperately needed services. But the people in those organizations — leaders and staff alike — have struggled to keep up, to balance their passion with the stress, trauma, and exhaustion brought on by the changes the pandemic has wrought. And many are steeling themselves for even more work ahead as they administer vaccines and shift to meet ever-growing demand with new in-person and hybrid programming.

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The Mind Trust has hired Kelli Marshall as senior vice president of schools. Marshall previously served as chief academic officer for GEO Academies and is the founder of Tindley Collegiate Academy. — Inside Indiana Business 
Renew Indianapolis has hired Michelle Palka as a residential loan portfolio manager. Palka has previous experience as a loan officer in numerous positions in the banking and finance industry.
Center for Leadership Development has promoted Samirah Bongiovanni as manager of programs. Bongiovanni previously served as the organization’s program coordinator.
The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust has awarded $745,000 to Central Indiana animal welfare organizations. The funds will be used to support pet owners struggling due to pandemic pressures and financial insecurity. Read

The Margot L. Eccles Arts & Culture Fund, a fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation, has granted Indy Reads $100,000 to support the opening and operation of the organization’s new location. Read

The Finish Line Youth Foundation has opened its 2021 Louder Than Words Grant program, which will provide $500,000 in funds to organizations that support communities of color. The program supports Finish Line’s commitment to combat racial injustice. Read

Indiana’s nonprofit sector has been able to weather economic downturns, in some cases better than for-profits, according to research conducted by the Indiana Nonprofits Project, a collaborative effort between the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI and the Indiana University O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Read

COVID-19 Grants

The Indianapolis Legal Aid Society has received a $250,000 COVID-19 relief grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to provide legal assistance to low-income individuals who have been acutely affected by the pandemic. Read
Provide senior telephone reassurance support: CICOA is seeking volunteers to check in with its most vulnerable clients once or twice a week. Volunteers will engage in conversation and provide companionship to those isolated by the COVID-1 crisis. Faith-friendly volunteers also are welcome to offer telephonic support and prayer. Complete application process online.
Keep your team going by celebrating small victories, encouraging next actions and creating a sense of accountability.
Learn how to develop a “culture of inquiry” within your organization by gaining the skills to have tough conversations and lean into new ideas.
Our sponsor marketplace serves to further connect our readers with our advertisers who are focused on serving nonprofits. To learn about each sponsor's nonprofit services, click on its logo.

Events, Meetings and Offices

With 2,000 square feet of coworking space, budget-friendly private offices, and comfortable meeting and event spaces, the Nexus Impact Center is an ideal location to pursue your mission. Located just off Interstate 465 and Michigan Road, Nexus allows your team members and visitors to quickly reach your space and meet in spacious rooms that allow for safe social distancing. More
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