By Carlos Collazo
Over the past month, our nation has faced a myriad of uncertainties as we grapple with the impact coronavirus has had on our lives and those around us. Our ability as a nation to put aside our differences and help our fellow man is something to be celebrated and not forgotten.
I have the honor of witnessing the difference people can make in their communities firsthand every day as the Executive Director of the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Clubs. We know the uncertainties our kids face every day would get even worse as this public health crisis grew. Our kids already face the uncertainty of acceptance and self-image. They already face gaps in educational attainment and achievement. The families we serve already struggle with accessing affordable childcare. You could only imagine how this pandemic heightens those uncertainties.
The Ulbrich Boys & Girls Clubs’ commitment to not only the youth we serve but our community as a whole only gets stronger in times of crisis. We recognized that this pandemic was going to have devastating effects throughout our area and that we as local leaders were uniquely positioned to do all we could to help. It’s why we immediately began providing a Virtual Club Experience for all of our sites. We reached out personally to our members to comfort them and let them know how much we care. We worked with our local schools to make sure our kids remained focused on academics and healthy activities.
But that resolve can only get us so far as we face lost revenue and financial instability as demand for our services increases. And we’re not the only nonprofit facing a financial quandary of how we can continue to provide critical services and aid to youth and our community while also keeping staff compensated, and preparing for Summer Camp. I can’t stress enough the dire support nonprofits such as ours need if we are to not only continue to serve our community but help our nation recover once this is over. It’s not just how we respond to a crisis, it’s how we rebuild following it.
It’s because of this that I must express my extreme gratitude on behalf of my Club staff, the youth and parents we serve as well as the community we call home, to our elected representative in Congress for passing much-needed supports for food insecurity, child care and educational programs for those struggling in the midst of this crisis. I can’t even put into words the difference aid will make in the lives of those who have lost their jobs as well as struggling small businesses and community serving organizations such as ours. Financial support will enable us to continue our mission toward helping as many people as possible as we soldier on through this epidemic. I hope that in any follow-up relief packages, that Congress keeps at the forefront of their minds those everyday Americans whose lives have been disrupted and forever changed and the role of Boys & Girls Clubs who came to the aid of their fellow Americans when it mattered most.
Nonprofits are a constant and comforting presence during crises and will continue to be, but we can’t do it without the support of our community and elected officials. A heartfelt thank you, Senator Christopher Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro for your leadership supporting nonprofits and youth in a time of need so that we can continue to support our community during theirs.
Carlos Collazo is the executive director of the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club, serving the North Haven and Wallingford communities.