Some of Janesville’s service clubs this weekend are setting an example of community support the rest of us should try to emulate.
The 10 clubs typically don’t work together, but they are linking elbows Sunday morning at a food drive for ECHO, which has seen demand for food and housing assistance skyrocket during the pandemic.
“Everyone I spoke with felt we are truly doing something positive for the community while keeping within the COVID-19 requirements in the city of Janesville,” said Lisa Johnson, president-elect of the Janesville Noon Kiwanis Club, one of the organizations participating.
Jessica Locher, interim executive director at ECHO, said the clubs did a similar drive Aug. 29 and were so pleased with the result they wanted to do it again right away.
The ECHO event Sunday will be three days after United Way Blackhawk Region announced a goal for its annual fundraiser. It hopes to collect $2.4 million—the same as last year—even though last year it fell $200,000 short.
“We are nervous about the tough decisions our corporate partners are making in a COVID-19 world,” said United Way President and CEO Mary Fanning-Penny. “We know some had to lay off employees or furlough employees or make other reductions that could negatively affect our campaign.”
The financial squeeze constricting local businesses and individuals is trickling down to local nonprofits.
The Rock County Historical Society has lost a good chunk of its annual income because schoolchildren aren’t visiting and fundraisers have been canceled. It has furloughed employees, cut the pay of Executive Director Tim Maahs and told most of its 200 volunteers to stay home.
The organization is in “precarious” financial straits, Maahs told Gazette reporter Frank Schultz earlier this week.
But there is reason for hope.
Cheryl Peterson, chairwoman of the 2020 Bert Blain Memorial Heart Walk, helped organize a successful fundraiser by taking it virtual.
“We encouraged people to walk wherever they were. We had people walking in Madison; we had people walking here; we had people walking in Louisiana; we had people walking in Florida. You don’t have to go somewhere to be together to do something together. There was a benefit to people walking wherever they were,” Peterson said.
She said they’re on track to hit their $90,000 goal, the same amount raised last year.
And the historical society is innovating. On Saturday, it will hold a yard sale outside the historic Lincoln-Tallman Carriage House.
And here’s to members of the Janesville Blackhawk Golden K Kiwanis, Noon Kiwanis, Noon Lions, Tuesday Breakfast Optimists, Wednesday Morning Optimists, Morning Rotary, Noon Rotary, Zonta, Forward Janesville Ambassadors and League of Women Voters. They’ll be collecting food and money donations for ECHO at Traxler Park in Janesville from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday.
Let’s follow their good example, roll up our sleeves and help.