‘They need our services and support more than ever’: Wichita non-profits navigate COVID-19 roadblocks

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – “They need our services and support more than ever,” said Mary Shannon, President of Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters.

That support for some is shelter.

“We’re extending our hours, so people can stay in place and stay safe. We’re providing extra meals,” said Angela Perez, HumanKind Ministries’ Director of Development and Community Engagement.

For 2,300 Kansas kids that support is their Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

“Kids are out of school. They’re driving their parents a little crazy and everyone is trying to figure out how to continue learning while at home and outside of that classroom environment. Our mentors are really stepping up,” said Shannon.

The stay-at-home order and social distancing are changing the way they connect. Matches are staying in touch with video chat and door step deliveries.

For some non-profits, Habitat for Humanity that isn’t an option.

“Really difficult to build a house and keep 6-feet of separation,” said Ann Fox, Executive Director of Wichita Habitat for Humanity.

Fox says this pandemic has made them realize how much volunteers impact their work. The other part of course is donor funds.

“Knowing that the companies in our community are all suffering greatly, we recognize it’s going to be very difficult for the corporate support that we are used to,” said Fox.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing some non-profits to cancel major fundraising events like For Kids Sake. Similar to other industries, they are trying to survive online.

“Give what you would give to have a cup of coffee out or the gas money you’d spend driving to the office. I don’t foresee that would cover our gap by any means but its a start,” said Shannon.

“For those who can help, definitely help. Everyone else stay positive and stay inside,” said Perez.

Despite stay-at-home orders, there are still ways you can volunteer virtually. Habitat for Humanity is searching for volunteers to help teach finance skills. Meanwhile, Big Brothers Big Sisters are looking for volunteers to help tutor kids.

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