Catalyst - Fall 2020 Vol 3 No 1 | Page 15

Let’s look to the future a little bit: have you and your staff talked about what the next couple of months might look like? As you said, we’re all kind of on the tail end of this wave and going into another wave of the pandemic. I think if we’re forced to close to the store again, we’ve learned how to tread without water, and if we had to close the clinic again, I think it will go the telehealth direction – which is the wave of the future anyway. We’re getting ourselves set up for a facility that doesn’t always require people to come to that facility, like with food pantry deliveries and things. I feel like having gone through that first wave, if we have to do it again, we have a plan now. We know what we have to do to keep the doors open. I did want to touch on Community Helping Place and its involvement with #LumpkinMatters and the Two Georgias Initiative. Do you think that your involvement with The Two Georgias helped your organization throughout this era or might help you in the next phase? Oh yes. I felt like they were really gracious to us and flexible. I came on a year ago and basically rewrote the budget. They were so good and so kind. Javier, Lisa, Samantha, everybody – gave me a lot of technical help and Catherine Liemohn was great too. That gave me the courage to say, “Is it ok if we spend this money a little bit differently?” When you write a grant, you’re basing it on what you need right then, but in 2-3 years, things can really change. It’s like it’s a living document, it changes as you go. Being able to have the flexibility to change that was already great, and then when we got around to April 8 and the grant was due for the next cycle, we were right in the middle of COVID-19, writing all these grants and trying to get emergency help. I was a little nervous that their expectations of me would be more than I could meet, but they were great. They said, “Let us help you get ZOOM, let us help you transition some of this money and use it in different ways.” We decided that since we weren’t having an inperson May event, we instead purchased a no contract phone and set up an emergency hotline so that people could still access those resources but without a resource there. Now when they call this 24 hour number, there’s a volunteer operator who answers the phone and who is trained to ask what their biggest need is at this time; is it food, is it housing, is it transportation? Let’s get you hooked up with the right resources. That has really taken off, and they’re having 3 or 4 calls a day, 7 days a week and responding to those calls. We partner with Family Connections and the school system to really get that number out to the community, and I feel like it’s picking up as we go along. This pandemic is changing the way we use those funds, and I think it will change it in the next year just because it’s a natural thing. I kept continuing to ask what the Foundation’s goals were, and I want to align myself with that. But I felt like as long as we’re still helping people who are food insecure, helping people who don’t have access to proper healthcare – as long as I’m helping people change their life, we’re using that money in a way that we can be proud of and the Foundation can trust us, and we can be accountable to them. I think it’s all working out. 15