One year ago, we were still coming to grips with a virus that was turning our world upside-down. It’s hard to believe the impact continues to loom so large over our everyday lives. Throughout our region’s nonprofit community, the pandemic shined a light on the importance of our human service agencies and social safety net.
Eighty percent of local human service organizations reported people utilizing their services as a direct result of the pandemic, and more than half served people who had never before accessed their services. If not for Greater Peoria’s robust and resilient nonprofit community, the impact would have been far more devastating. These organizations faced the challenge head-on—adapting and evolving, creating new programs, increasing efficiencies, and collaborating in new and different ways.
They got creative. They innovated. And the rest of the community took notice. “Our agencies were flooded with offers of assistance, whether it was making and donating cloth masks for our frontline workers, donating baby formula and diapers, or supplying other essential goods,” according to the Human Services Collaborative of Greater Peoria. “It was inspiring! … The human services sector has felt very appreciated.”
With the coming of spring, we’re once again able to spend more time outdoors. This is truly a healing force. People found that being outside and in nature soothes the soul—dining outside, walking or bicycling our many trails, strolling down Grandview Drive or Moss Avenue, or simply sitting on one’s porch or patio is therapeutic. Many of us have been able to reconnect to the simple things in life, another silver lining of the pandemic.
The Peoria Park District was particularly resourceful last year, keeping its parks and trails open to the public while reinventing its programming like everyone else. “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” writes executive director Emily Cahill. “When the world gives you a global pandemic, you reimagine yourself to be more flexible and impactful… and hopefully, you change for the better!”
From frontline staff to management, we applaud our nonprofit community for their hard work, resilience, passion and vision. We are thankful for those who volunteer and serve on boards, helping to guide these organizations during uncertain times. And we recognize the donors and philanthropists working behind the scenes to ensure they have the resources they need to fulfill their missions. Our hearts overflow with gratitude for a caring community rising to the occasion. PM