By Mike Goorhouse, The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area
Life can change so fast. Just two weeks ago, local school districts closed and people began to self-isolate amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Earlier this week, Gov. Whitmer issued the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order which suspended activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.
The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are global. Communities everywhere are feeling the economic and social impacts and doing their best to navigate these turbulent times. There are plenty of reasons to feel anxious, but let’s try our best to embrace hope and positivity.
Examples of good can be found everywhere: Salons donating gloves and masks, teachers driving through neighborhoods and waving to students, Hope College donating PPE supplies to the hospital, and breweries and distilleries creating hand sanitizer to combat shortages.
Another example of hope can be found in our local nonprofit sector. COVID-19 presented a major hurdle, as human service agencies had to balance their missions with unexpected expenses and logistical headaches of social distancing and decreased volunteers.
These organizations are already well-versed in collaboration and innovation, and they stepped up in a big way! Each day, local leadership shares resources and ideas to keep people housed, fed, and healthy.
Recognizing the need for a rapid, efficient and effective response to the impact of COVID-19, The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Greater Ottawa County United Way, Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance, Community Spoke, and others formed a coalition.
We created a website: www.careottawacounty.com, that launched within 24 hours. The site provides a consolidated list of resources for those who need assistance or those looking for ways to help, such as making a financial gift or donating goods. In just 10 days, the website received over 15,000 unique visitors, and 250 people used the volunteer portal provided by Greater Ottawa County United Way.
Financial donations to the newly created Emergency Human Needs Funds, created with seed money from the Holland/Zeeland and Grand Haven area community foundations and United Way, have exceeded $400,000. These donations are then distributed in real-time to the human service agencies in our community that are struggling to keep people fed, housed, and healthy. So far, 18 local organizations have received grants to help bridge the increased demand for assistance.
We’re in this together, so visit and share the site: www.careottawacounty.com. Help everyone in our county learn about this resource – whether they need assistance or want to find a way to make a difference.
The need is great, and no gift of time or resources is too small. There are even opportunities to help from the safety of your home! Let’s join together in hope and positivity and keep our community strong.
Mike Goorhouse is president of The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.
This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.