GREG TASKER | WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 2023
Like other small nonprofit organizations in the Upper Peninsula, the Keweenaw Family Resource Center in Houghton faced its share of challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
The center, which provides a host of mostly free services and programs to about 600 families of all income levels a year, wrestled with unexpected expenses, stemming from a high turnover in staffing and adapting to provide services, including organized playtime and diapers, because of state indoor restrictions.
Many families accessed much needed supplies like diapers through the Keweenaw Family Resource Center’s Baby Closet during the pandemic
Meanwhile, demand for its services, which include home-based visits and education – increased.
“It was a very challenging time,” says Iola Brubaker, director of the Keweenaw Family Resource Center, noting the staff turnover was especially daunting. “We have a highly trained staff. To train new people is costly and takes time. It’s one of the biggest expenses for any business or organization. It was just challenging.”
Like other nonprofits in the U.P. and across Michigan, the Keweenaw Family Resource Center is still recovering from the pandemic.
The pandemic’s impact has been particularly hard on nonprofits in rural areas and those led by, and serving, Black, Indigenous and people of color.
Some help is available, however. The Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth (LEO) are promoting a $35 million MI Nonprofit Relief Fund, encouraging small charitable nonprofit organizations to apply for grants. Small nonprofits are eligible for one-time grant funds from $5,000 to $25,000.
“We encourage nonprofits – especially those from underrepresented, underserved and rural areas – to apply. Michigan’s nonprofits have given so much to their communities every day, and this fund helps give back to those who give,” says Kelley Kuhn, who is president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, which is administering the relief fund.