Throughout the pandemic, many local organizations have been adapting and innovating to best serve their stakeholders. Now that the community is looking back over lessons learned during the pandemic, many are thinking creatively about how to keep what worked best and combine that innovation with the tried and true traditions for maximum impact.

Organizations like Mothers Helping Mothers and CreArte Latino Cultural Center are recognizing their power as community conveners by creating COVID-19 vaccine clinic opportunities in easily accessible areas for their clients and community members who may not be able to easily access vaccines through other means.

Manatee Literacy Council (MLC) has found innovative ways to keep connected virtually. From their “Confident Conversation” classes to provide English support to English as a Second Language (ESL) learners to virtual Tutor Certification Programs for new volunteers, MLC has found ways to encourage and support the entire organization’s clients. Beyond just virtual classes, MLC also established a What’sApp group and Tutors Facebook group, began a weekly book club, and partnered with BMO Bank to provide Zoom Financial Literacy classes. “While the pandemic has presented unique challenges, we’re excited to move forward providing both in-person and virtual classes!” they explained.

Research has shown that the last 18 months have left many in our community struggling with mental health, burnout, or other trauma. Resilient Retreat is a new, innovative nonprofit in our community offering various evidence-based services to address the impact of trauma on the mind, body, and spirit. Resilient Retreat serves both survivors of trauma and those who serve our community as helping professionals. Founded in research and guided by community voices, a variety of free and confidential programs have been developed to help participants have the tools needed to create a life of empowerment and resiliency. From neurofeedback to equine therapy, support groups to yoga classes, and more, an ever-evolving catalogue of programs helps provide participants with practical skills and hope for a future of not only surviving but THRIVING.

In response to the pandemic, the federal government passed the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Gulfcoast Legal Services is providing regular reports about the ARP to community members and nonprofits to help connect them with resources with the community. You can sign up to receive updates or view past reports here.

COVID-19 has certainly challenged all of us, but our community organizations continue to find ways to adapt and innovate to connect more deeply. Thank you to each organization that continues to look for new opportunities!

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