CH@T: Online nonprofit hub kicks off ‘Holiday Wishes’

Posted 11/19/20

Chatham Connecting is an all-volunteer group which — through the chathamconnecting.org website — matches local organizations in need of volunteers with people who want to volunteer. This week, we …

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CH@T: Online nonprofit hub kicks off ‘Holiday Wishes’

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Chatham Connecting is an all-volunteer group which — through the chathamconnecting.org website — matches local organizations in need of volunteers with people who want to volunteer. This week, we speak with volunteers Dianne Birch and Maggie Pearson, both of whom live in Fearrington Village, about Chatham Connecting’s “Holiday Wishes” program.

Give us a refresher on Chatham Connecting, and also share what kind of things have changed with this resource during the pandemic …

Chatham Connecting is an online database of nonprofits and agencies that serve residents of Chatham County. More than 100 agencies have shared information on chathamconnecting.org about their programs to serve our community. People also can find volunteer opportunities, where to donate goods or funding, and what special events are planned by each agency.

During this pandemic, everyone has been challenged. The needs in our community have mushroomed as we face increased isolation, job layoffs, remote work and education, and increased illness. Many people need more help at this time.

Our nonprofit agencies have had to adapt their services, often moving to virtual interactions with their clients. Many volunteers are older and, with higher risk, have had to stop volunteering in person. Nonprofit agencies still seek volunteers, including teens and college students, and have adapted volunteer work to follow safety guidelines. Some volunteer work can be done from home.

Funding has declined for many agencies. They are working hard to provide services to our community safely while keeping staff employed. Some have had to reduce salaries in order to avoid layoffs. Fundraising events have been canceled. All of this underscores a greater need of donations of all kinds. Yet, the adaptability of our agencies is amazing. They have found creative ways to continue to serve and help others.

Let’s focus now on the Holiday Wishes programs, which just went live. Holiday Wishes is a collection of Chatham-centered holiday programs serving local residents. What do we need to know about the programs now under the Holiday Wishes umbrella?

Each year Chatham Connecting features “Holiday Wishes” to directly link to the holiday programs that serve Chatham residents. It is the season of giving and many people want to know how to help others. This year our agencies have had to adapt their efforts to help, to follow health guidelines. There are holiday programs to provide gifts for children at Christmas and to provide food for families during the holidays. There are programs to help seniors who may be alone and need some cheer. The Chatham County Department of Social Services has a wonderful Christmas Wishes program for foster children and other children receiving social services. Christmas Dreams for adults in need also is from Social Services. The Chatham Council on Aging has a virtual Angel Tree this year to provide gifts for homebound seniors. Goathouse Refuge seeks gifts for kittens. A Helping Hand will help provide groceries and basic needs with gift cards. CORA is providing food for more people than ever, seeking donations to feed 1,000 families during the holidays.

More information about each of these programs and specific ways to give is on chathamconnecting.org.

For nonprofits, there’s a very useful “Resources for Agencies” tab. Can you talk about putting that information together, and what’s there?

Thank you for asking about that. This section of the website was created to provide links to Chatham County as well as state-wide information for use by donors and non-profit agencies. For example, a user can find links to sites that offer statistics about individual Chatham County townships as well as North Carolina sites offering labor and economic data. We hope our nonprofit agencies can use the links in “Resources” to quickly get the data needed to apply for grants or describe needs in our community. Because we have a large and diverse county, using averages — such as for income or education or transportation — does not fully describe our county. Our non-profits need a solid understanding of how to find more information and “Resources for Agencies” can open that door.

Chatham Connecting also provides a way to browse for programs for those who want to give or volunteer. What else can we find on the site?

If users click on the “News” button they can find real-time information about special events from various agencies and non-profits. As Thanksgiving approaches, and then Christmas, there are many holiday listings that offer everything from Christmas trees to sports challenges to blood drives to food donation needs.

Chatham Connecting tries to be a clearinghouse with resources for our neighbors who need help as well as for agencies searching for information. As we say, Chatham Connecting brings together those who need help with those who can help.

More at www.chathamconnecting.org and info@chathamconnecting.org.

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