NEW HANOVER COUNTY — It’s been a long road for area nonprofits to travel down throughout the course of the pandemic. Covid-19 shutdowns stunted normal opportunities for fundraisers and campaigns, inevitably impacting the bottom line. The North Carolina Secretary of State Charitable Solicitation Licensing (CSL) Division Annual Report showed a $10.8 million decline in licensed fundraisers from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington are using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help many organizations combat the hit. Last week, the government entities allocated a total of $1.4 million to 65 area nonprofits, many cultural-, health-, faith- and arts-based. Each organization received up to $50,000.
Some organizations benefitted from both city and county ARP funds, including Child Development Center Inc., Community Counseling Center, Diaper Bank of North Carolina, Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Family Promise of the Lower Cape Fear, LINC, Soaring as Eagles Outreach Ministry, and YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear.
Also among them: Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM), which aids low-income individuals on home repairs and renovations. The nonprofit hasn’t been able to hold its two major annual fundraising events over the past couple of years now, according to director of communications Suzanne Jalot. Yet, their much-needed work didn’t stop. In fact, the pandemic exacerbated the needs of the nonprofit’s clients, many of whom were vulnerable already, according to Jalot.
“Since they were spending more time at home, that meant home health and safety repairs were more important than ever,” she said. “Repairs to address contaminants in the home that affect respiratory health, repairing holes in flooring, and having a working HVAC system all become even more urgent when you’re spending so much time in the home.”
WARM will receive just over $75,000 from both the county and city to continue serving the elderly, disabled, and veterans in Brunswick, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, and Pender counties. Jalot said they rely on hundreds of volunteers and church missionary teams to complete multitudes of services a year. Since 2018, they have rebuilt 250 homes that sustained damage from Hurricane Florence.
The nonprofit helps 150 to 180 households annually, though receives over 300 requests. So far in 2021 WARM has served 221 people in 170 households, with its volunteers helping to build or fix roofs, do ceiling or sheetrock repairs, deal with plumbing, electrical and weatherization needs, as well as install appliances.
But the pandemic cut into volunteer hours too.
“We went from having 45 teams to having just four,” Jalot said. “Some of our homeowners had been waiting for repairs since Florence. They didn’t want Covid to delay the repairs even longer, but we wanted them to feel comfortable with strangers working on their homes.”
WARM continued its work by putting in place Covid-19 protocols, including policies and procedures that had volunteers wearing appropriate masks and gloves.
“We also limited our time inside the home as much as practical,” Jalot said. “That helped the residents in the home feel safe, as many of our homeowners are in that increased risk category.”
Other monetary relief WARM received during Covid helped retain its full-time staff, but the county and city money will go toward “filling gaps in funding.” Specifically, Jalot said it helps where government grants won’t — many of which put stipulations on how money can be spent.
“We still have to cover critical infrastructure, such as insurance, mortgage payments, accounting and compliance expenses,” she explained.
One cost that has directly affected WARM is the increased price of lumber and supplies. A shutdown nation had many individuals tackling long-overdue home repairs and renovations, driving up demand. Jalot said a wheelchair ramp — something volunteers are often tasked with completing in WARM homes — that once averaged $1,500 pre-pandemic almost doubled in price.
“Those same materials cost $2,400 or more,” she said. “The cost of building materials went up by 60% to 80%. That’s where we felt the biggest pinch.”
WARM will be participating in Giving Tuesday, held annually the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as well, in hopes of generating an additional $10,000 to carry its needs through the winter.
“So many homeowners are without heat right now, and as the nights get colder, we want to be able to give the gift of warmth to those who need it,” Jalot said.
The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County governments set up committees to help decide how to best disseminate the grants. The city partnered with the United Way of the Cape Fear and the Arts Council of New Hanover County and Wilmington.
“We asked community leaders to be the decision makers on where these dollars will go,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said in a press release from the city.
It tasked council members Clifford Barnett and Kevin Spears, Mayor Pro-Tem Margaret Haynes, community organizer Hollis Briggs, and arts council secretary Elizabeth Carbone to sift through applications.
New Hanover County teamed up with social impact nonprofit organization Cape Fear Collective (CFC) to choose a steering committee of local advocates — Mebane Boyd, Sharm Brantley, Evelyn Bryant, Joe Conway, Ashley Daniels, Chris Teeter, and Rebecca Trammel.
“We sought out community leaders and organizers who understood New Hanover County’s nonprofit sector,” CFC’s director of community engagement Kevin Maurer said. “These leaders knew the organizations and were in the best position to allocate the funds to organizations having the greatest impact.”
Each committee member had “wide-ranging experiences, perspectives, and expertise,” added Teeter.
After receiving 65 applications, the county committee narrowed down allocations to 30 nonprofits that fit their criteria. The city awarded 35.
Both committees considered who exhibited the greatest need by assessing services each organization provided, the fallout incurred from the pandemic in delivering those services, and how the nonprofits represented underserved communities and/or marginalized populations.
Maurer said the county committee also took into account a nonprofit’s accessibility to funding.
“Smaller, ‘grassroots’ organizations who are proximate to the problems and doing essential boots-on-the-ground work are often overlooked when it comes to attaining significant funding,” CFC committee member Trammel said. “Empowering underfunded programs and including leaders who have been doing so much with very little was important to our committee. Decisions were made with a spirit of collaboration, deliberation, intentionality and consideration. The nonprofits we were able to award are doing remarkable work to increase the overall resiliency of our county and make sure we all bounce back.”
Area nonprofits received $700,000 from each government entity, which awarded organizations up to $50,000. The city also awarded a dozen organizations that focus on arts programming.
All organizations receiving ARP funding from New Hanover County include:
- A Bike for Every Child — $12,266.67
- Centre of Redemption, D/B/A A Safe Place — $19,166.67
- Accessible Coastal Carolina Events, Sports and Services — $14,566.67
- Advance Youth Outreach — $23,766.67
- Bargain Box of Wilmington — $10,766.67
- Blank Canvas Awareness Art — $14,566.57
- Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh — $37,566.67
- Cape Fear HealthNet, Inc. — $28,366.67
- Cape Fear Volunteer Center and Big Buddy — $12,266.67
- Child Development Center, Inc. — $23,766.67
- Coastal Bringing Up Down Syndrome — $10,766.67
- Coastal Horizons/Open House Youth Shelter Program — $23,766.67
- Community Counseling Center — $23,766.67
- Community Enrichment Initiatives Inc. — $19,166.67
- Diaper Bank of North Carolina — $23,766.67
- Domestic Violence Shelter and Services — $46,766.67
- Elderhaus — $23,766.67
- Family Promise of the Lower Cape Fear — $23,766.67
- Financial Protection Law Center — $23,766.67
- Leading Into New Communities d/b/a LINC, Inc. — $46,766.67
- NSEA Swim — $10,766.67
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration SENC — $10,766.67
- Seeds of Healing — $29,766.67
- Soaring as Eagles Outreach Ministry — $46,766.67
- The Feast Congregation — $19,166.67
- The Kairos Center — $19,166.67
- The LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast — $28,366.67
- Vigilant Hope, Inc. — $10,766.67
- Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, Inc. —$37,566.67
- YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear — $23,766.67
All organizations receiving funding from the City of Wilmington include:
- Big Dawg Productions — $10,000
- Brigade Boys & Girls Club — $25,000
- Brooklyn Arts Music Academy — $10,000
- Cameron Art Museum — $15,000
- Canines for Service — $25,000
- Cape Fear Chorale — $2,000
- Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity — $35,000
- Cape Fear HealthNet — $20,000
- Cape Fear Literacy Council — $25,000
- Child Development Center — $25,000
- Community Boys & Girls Club — $10,000
- Community Counseling Center — $10,000
- Cucalorus Film Foundation — $10,000
- Diaper Bank of North Carolina Lower Cape Fear Branch — $35,000
- Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Inc. — $15,000
- Dreams of Wilmington — $25,000
- Family Promise of the Lower Cape Fear — $15,000
- Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC — $50,000
- Forward Motion Dance Company — $6,000
- Good Shepherd Center — $10,000
- Leading Into New Communities — $25,000
- Opera Wilmington — $18,000
- So What Now, Inc. — $10,000
- Soaring as Eagles — $15,000
- Thalian Association — $15,000
- The Carousel Center — $40,000
- Theatre for All — $15,000
- Turning the Wheel — $16,500
- Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry — $35,000
- Wilmington Art Association — $5,500
- Wilmington Ballet — $20,000
- Wilmington Symphony Orchestra — $12,000
- Wilmington’s Residential Adolescent Achievement Place — $35,000
- Working Narratives — $10,000
- YWCA Lower Cape Fear — $25,000
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