Non-Profits Are Hurting

The Corona Times – May 26, 2020

by Rhonda Gunter

Screenshot of the home page of the Mitchell County Historical Society

Notice of the MCHS office being closed on the front page of our website.

The Mitchell County Historical Society has carried on some semblance of normalcy during these Corona Times.  Our webmaster, David Biddix, is keeping our website up to date, and our office manager, Marsha Biddix, is working from home to field calls and emails.  But our normal activities have screeched to a halt, and it is causing real financial problems for MCHS.  Our office is closed, so we aren’t selling books and commemorative ornaments to visitors.  By now we would have had our April program, the first of the year, when many of our members renewed their memberships.  The May meeting has already been canceled as well, and we’re concerned about the feasibility of public gatherings for the next few months.  So, our usual funds are not coming in.  We had to postpone our annual History Bee, when we also do considerable fund-raising. 

Meanwhile, as incoming funds have dried up, revenue continues to flow outward.  Salaries are payable each month.  Luckily, the County allows MCHS office space in the Historic Courthouse in Bakersville, but utilities must be paid.  We’ll be funding the Inez McRae Memorial Scholarship very soon.  Our office manager is searching for grants which might bring us some funds, but most of them are for specific projects, which have had to put on hold along with programs and other events.

Other non-profits are feeling the sting of Covid-19 restrictions.  Spruce Pine Kiwanis had to put its bi-weekly meetings on hold, which makes getting member dues in more complicated.   Kiwanis had to cancel its Spring Fish Fry and also lost revenue from participation in April’s Fire on the Mountain Blacksmith Festival, which was cancelled.  It’s questionable whether their next big fundraiser, the annual Kiwanis Golf Tournament, will be held in June. 

These events have traditionally raised money going to many local projects, including numerous scholarships for Mitchel County students.  Kiwanians will continue to fund as many scholarships as possible, but unless they find another way to make up lost income, they “will have to make hard decisions on the many worthy causes we support for children and families,” says Mike Gunter, Spruce Pine Kiwanis Treasurer.  

Mitchell County Shepherds Staff, a non-profit food pantry, has seen greatly increased demand as unemployment rises and more families experience food insecurity.  Larry Davis, Shepherd’s Staff executive director, says that up to 25% more calls are coming in for food boxes.  Luckily, donations from individuals and businesses are also up, and recent grant awards have enabled Shepherd’s Staff to purchase more food from MANNA.

What are other non-profits in Mitchell County experiencing during these Corona Times?  We know many churches are seeing reduced contributions, as members are accustomed to putting their tithe in the collection plate rather than the mail. 

As groups learn to employ ZOOM and other platforms for virtual meetings, they are also encouraging the use of PayPal and e-payments for dues and donations to keep them running, along with mailing checks.  Non-profits send out appeal letters and emails to members and contacts requesting funding; likewise, MCHS has reached out in this time for some extra help to carry out our important mission of preserving the heritage of Mitchell County. 

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About the Numbers

You will note a series of numbers contained in the blog. They document the spread of virus through confirmed cases by the federal Centers for Disease Control and by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. These are the official totals provided by state and local government at the date of the post and do not include estimates or cases not confirmed by these agencies. This is our effort to provide an accurate gauge of confirmed virus spread as it continues during the pandemic.

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