Portland, OR. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Because People Matter (BPM), has had to modify popular programs to meet new challenges. The nonprofit is now assembling and delivering lunches (seen above) instead of hosting weekly meals underneath the Burnside Bridge every Thursday night. The outreach effort, called Night Strike, was an opportunity for members of Portland’s homeless community to enjoy a hot meal and receive additional services such as a haircut and have their clothes/shoes replaced. The outreach effort brought together approximately 200 volunteers to provide food, clothing, toiletries, haircuts, and foot washing for over 300 guests. Now, such volunteering is not possible, because of social distancing requirements.
But this isn’t the end of the program, instead, BPM has implemented the Sunday afternoon walkabouts where they hand out lunches three times a week to COVID-sanctioned city camps. There are potentially from 120 to 180 people at a given time in these camps.
Volunteers gather materials and supplies for a Sunday walkabout.
Lesley Snyder, co-founder, and administrator explains her decision to implement these Sunday walkabouts. “We waited for all summer long and are just now implementing walkabouts again on Sunday afternoons we feel like that’s a safer time of the day for most people, but we limit it to only about eight people so…this is dramatically reduced.”
The camps have had to lower their capacity due to COVID-19, needing to separate beds in order to be six feet apart. Some have also requested safe spaces for different groups of people including but not limited to individuals who identify as LGBTQ, trans, bi-racial, people of color.
Because People Matter is partnering with the city of Portland and is also collaborating with organizations like Medical Teams International. That nonprofit had previously attended Night Strike and provided medical and dental care to guests in the camps.
To raise funds for needed programs, Because People Matter hosted a virtual gala on September 16th. However, procuring items for the fundraiser was a struggle for the nonprofit as Snyder explains. “When COVID-19 hit we just couldn’t ask local vendors who were shutting their doors and laying people off to give us things for a fundraiser in six months we didn’t even know if it was going to happen in six months.”
Volunteers help hand out lunches for Sunday walkabouts.
COVID-19 has created new challenges for BPM and according to Snyder everyone at the nonprofit continues to work harder than ever they have especially in unusual circumstances.
Snyder is also hoping to recoup some of the funds that they weren’t able to raise this year because of COVID-19 through this virtual event. This will be different from previous virtual gala’s as they won’t be auctioning instead, they are using text to give, and although they’re asking for people to register for the event anybody is welcome to join at 7 pm.
From Because People Matter website: We exist to develop and sustain relational environments that create movement within groups and individuals to demonstrate love and generosity lived out in the world. Because People Matter creates relational environments that provide Relief, Mobilization, and Transformation.
Portland, OR. Learning at home with a laptop is likely to become “de rigueur.” The French American International School (FAIS), which recently raised over $200,000 at its virtual fundraising event, will be starting the school year with a comprehensive distance learning model.
According to Shawna Foster, Director of Development at FAIS, the distance learning model will prioritize goals such as: Supporting the FAIS mission of cultivating intellect and character through rigorous multilingual academic programs in an environment that promotes appreciation of diverse cultures and experiences; fostering a learning experience of connection and interpersonal relationships where people feel safe, seen, and valued; enhancing predictability for students, families, and teachers by using consistent timeframes, platforms, and tools; optimizing teacher instruction and interaction time with students while respecting the developmental needs and sustainable patterns for teachers and families; and designing schedules and instruction times around the well-being of students.
“None of this would be possible without our wonderful teachers and staff who have worked tirelessly to provide stability and continuity for our students and develop meaningful learning experiences,” Foster said.
In addition to planning for distance learning, FAIS has also prepared schedules and student cohorts to transition to a hybrid or on-campus learning model. For those interested in exploring educational opportunities for their children at FAIS, you can visit the Virtual Admissions Center to watch a virtual open-house recording, browse a photo tour of the campus and schedule a one on one Zoom meeting with the admissions team.
“Last spring, FAIS friends and family came together to celebrate our student art and raise important funds to support our community during this time of financial uncertainty,” Foster said. “The FAIS Virtual Community Gathering, which replaced the annual gala due to COVID-19, drew over 180 families to participate and support the school. This community event was an opportunity to join together in a spirit of celebration and appreciation for the French American International School.”
French American International School Virtual Community Gathering fundraiser
In the week leading up to the event, families drove through campus to see all of the student art projects from the comfort of their car at a Drive-Thru Art Gallery.
“This was a celebration of the hard work that all of our students put into the art projects throughout the year, and was a wonderful reminder of what we can create together,” Foster said.
The virtual event was hosted by Johnna Wells of Benefit Auction 360. Families bid on art projects, entered the raffle to win a designated parking spot on FAIS campus, and gave generously during the moment of giving. The event raised over $200,000 for FAIS.
About the French American International School:
The French American International School cultivates intellect and character through rigorous multilingual academic programs in an environment that promotes appreciation of diverse cultures and experiences. Whether students join our community in preschool, kindergarten, or middle school, our goal is the same. By the time students graduate from FAIS, they will have established a foundation of lifelong skills to prepare them for high school and to succeed in a global, interconnected world.
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