We Can Work It Out: How Teamwork Overcomes the Biggles Obstacles (Even a Pandemic)
Like most nonprofits we know, The Gateway Family YMCA has had to make a lot of changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. We closed our branches on March 17th and refocused our efforts on the essential housing programs we provide. We took time to set ourselves up to work remotely, and offer virtual health & wellness programs in this time of physical distancing. Even now as we’re planning ahead for the days when we can reopen our branches, we’re keeping in mind all of the physical distancing and operational procedures we’ll need to ensure the safety of our members and staff. This pandemic has affected all aspects of our work and programming, including our plans for this grant.
Many nonprofits have significantly reduced hours or furloughed staff. The staff remaining have been juggling not only their own workload, but the workload of other colleagues. Time that was planned to gather/update information on food provider locations and summer feeding sites for the PolicyMap online mapping tool was spent re-establishing connections with partners on the project. We’ve fallen back a step and had to reconvene to figuring out who was involved with the project, what was done, what still needs to be done, and what is possible during a pandemic.
But as much as the pandemic has caused these delays in our grant plans, it’s also provided an incredible opportunity. All of our communications with our Shaping Elizabeth partners, PolicyMap partners, community members have been enriched by this experience. Although we might be physically distanced from one another, we’ve reached out to each other virtually to check on each other and offer to help on this project without hesitation. Connections made before the pandemic have only been strengthened, and new ones have been created. It’s really brought out the spirit of community and teamwork in the nonprofit field stronger than before.
So while our work on the interactive food provider and online mapping tool was delayed by the pandemic, it hasn’t been stopped by it. As we move ahead we’re learning some of the data we want to include (like SNAP approved retail locations) is already available through PolicyMap’s databases while others (like summer feeding sites) are more uncertain due to the pandemic. We’ve come to realize everything we’re working on now will change frequently over the next few months as the state starts reopening from the pandemic. And that’s okay. Because the team we have working on this project is stronger than ever and committed to pulling together this resource which is more needed now than ever before.
About the Grantee
The Gateway Family YMCA (TGFY) is a community-based organization rooted in Christian principles and committed to building healthy lives through programs that strengthen spirits, minds, and bodies for people of all ages, religions, and cultures. A leader in the Shaping Elizabeth coalition, TGFY is committed towards supporting the health, nutrition, and physical activity of all Elizabeth residents.
Funder: New Jersey Department of Health