by Jeff Mortensen
President & CEO
The pandemic has caused increased levels of uncertainty and anxiety across communities. Dakota County experienced a 3,000% increase in unemployment applications, with more than 37,000 people seeking help in just the last 30 days. Although COVID-19 presents an extraordinary crisis in recent history, families who struggle through hardships have always been here. It is precisely why 360 Communities exists. Indeed it was what birthed the organization in the early 1970s. We will trust in our 45 years of experience, the strength of the community, and the resiliency of people to overcome this challenge together.
360 Communities has remained open. If you need help, we are here. We continue to operate all of our programs with new protocols that reduce social interaction and create “clean” spaces.
We appreciate the tremendous outpouring of community support that we are receiving. It is motivating to see the community lean on 360 Communities and seek our leadership in delivering the safety and stability families need. Our Lewis House domestic and sexual violence shelters are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our network of five food shelves and two family resource centers are open for food appointments. Our school success programs continue to support families remotely and creatively.
Volunteers make a difference
We are humbled by the army of volunteers that continue to deliver the help and hope that so many people are seeking during this difficult time. They are the inspirational examples of shared interest defeating self-interest. About 1,200 volunteers donate more than 46,000 hours annually in support of 360 Communities’ mission of delivering safety and stability that improves lives. They support victims of sexual and domestic violence, deliver food and financial support in our resource centers and food shelves, and provide holiday gifts and meals.
Understandably, during this pandemic, some volunteers in high-risk categories have needed to step back and stay home. We look forward to their return during the recovery period after this crisis has ended. Fortunately, other community members responded to our call for volunteers in low-risk groups and filled in to keep our food shelves running. If you are at low risk of infection to COVID-19 and want to volunteer, fill out a volunteer interest form here.
Your generosity is needed now more than ever
While the need continues to spread, know that the community goodwill grows at an even higher rate. We are fortunate as a nonprofit to witness firsthand the generosity of spirit displayed by so many of our neighbors. People are rising to the occasion and helping in many ways. We have experienced an increase in new volunteers as well as new donors. People have donated all or part of their stimulus payments and donated most needed items to our food shelves and shelters. The community also helped us surpass our Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign goals!
Before COVID-19 hit, many lived paycheck to paycheck and were one calamity away from a crisis. Now their jobs are disappearing at a high rate. So, while your gifts of time and treasure will have an immediate impact on families that are hurting today, we are also preparing for the aftermath. We believe the economic rebuilding period will be longer-lasting and will require resilience to achieve a full recovery.
There is a role for everyone to play, and together we can face any challenge. We remain encouraged by your support. Discover how you can make the community stronger through 360 Communities.