The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been far reaching and some of the worst financial casualties have been the most critical in assisting the community during a crisis.

Local non-profits took a serious financial hit due to cancellation or postponement of critical fundraising events during the shelter-in-place orders.

Non-profits are the hands and feet of a community. When in the right hands and under the best leadership, there is no limit to the number of people and animals that can be assisted through these programs, when there is proper funding.

The wallets of these organizations are filled through tireless volunteering, fundraisers and donations. Other than grants, the only way they are able to help people is through the generosity of others.

This year the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated or seriously injured the ability of these groups to raise funds for general operating and maintenance costs forcing them to cancel critical events.

In 2017, 136 women were killed by a male intimate partner. Around 37% of the victims were separated or in the process of leaving. Family Peace Project and East Texas Crisis Center, groups who assist women like this are in desperate need. With quarantine and stay-in-place orders, the opportunity for domestic violence to occur increased, while accessibility to help decreased.

In order to carry on the traditional events in 2020, nonprofits have had to exercise patience and creativity.

The Family Peace Project's annual Waffle Breakfast was postponed in order to comply with social distancing requirements as well as the ETCC eighth annual Walk-a-Mile event, two of the organizations largest fundraisers.

Not only did the two-month shut down effect current fundraising efforts, but also future events such as ETCC's Wine and Cheese. This is the time organizers collect prizes, donations, sponsors and auction items for the Wine and Cheese event in the fall.

Family Peace Project

FPP had to turn people away from help due to the pandemic.  

Family Peace Project estimates expenses to be around $60 a day per family and they currently have five families. Current operating expenses are approximately $9,000 per month which covers everything from operation, payroll and family assistance.

Many are struggling to recover from this unique event in history, however if there are any churches, businesses or individuals who would like to sponsor a family, or give a gift of any amount it would be greatly appreciated by both victims and the organization. This would be a tax deductible expense and also could be considered part of your churches “mission/home mission” ministry. It is wonderful helping people other places, but sometimes the worst need is right in front of you. Starting to serve “at home” is often the first step to change.

“We would love to have monthly donors who commit to helping us meet these needs,” said Michelle Robinson, FPP director. “Our current needs are to replace the windows in one of the shelters and upgrade our security systems. The cost is $4,000 to meet these needs.”

 In order to try and meet this and other needs FPP has decided to move forward with its Waffle Breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, July 10 at the First United Methodist Church Athens.

“This will be a drive thru/pick-up/carry out breakfast. We will also be offering deliveries to anyone in the city limits of Athens,” Robinson said.

Tickets will be $8 for adults and $5 for children. For those that miss that that event it will be set up to sell waffles at the Athens Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 11. Every other Saturday a representative from FPP will be selling baked goods at the market.

If you are interested in helping FPP or donating, please visit The Family Peace Project, Inc. on Facebook or mail it to PO Box 1723, Athens, TX 75751

If you are a victim of domestic violence please call the Family Peace Project shelter hotline 903-677-9177

East Texas Crisis Center

You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Each year ETCC hosts the Walk-a-Mile event where various groups and men Walk a Mile in Her Shoes quite literally in women’s red high-heeled shoes.

Firemen, law enforcement and various men parade around the courthouse four times showing their support for victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately this event, that normally coincides with the Old Fiddler's Reunion, was canceled due to the pandemic.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Event is a playful opportunity for men in our community to raise awareness about the serious causes, effects and remediation’s to sexual violence,” ETCC stated.

This year would have marked the eighth annual international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and violence against women.

“It’s not easy walking in these shoes, but its fun and it gets the community to talk about something that is really difficult to talk about: gender relations and sexual violence. It demonstrates that men are willing and able to be courageous partners with women in making the world a safer place,” ETCC said.

“We would like to have people post pictures on Facebook of their past and present walks or holding a poster demonstrating what sexual assault or domestic violence means to them,” said Della Cooper,  East Texas Crisis Center director. “We will miss sharing this event with you this year.”

The funds that are raised from Walk A Mile are used in assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault here in Henderson County. Some of the services ETCC offers are: emergency shelter, relocation,  financial assistance, legal/victim advocacy, counseling, and peer support groups.  These services are provided in both English and Spanish.

If you are in need of help, or want to volunteer or donate to this organization, please contact them at 903-675-2137 or visit www.etcc.org.

Masks in colors affiliated with domestic violence will also be sold.

In 2018 the East Texas Crisis Center served 595 women, children and men. In Texas 136 women in 2017 were killed by their significant other, 37% of them were separated at the time or in the process of leaving. The center was originally started in 1978 as a rape crisis center in Tyler.

In spite of it being a difficult time financially for many, please do not forget local non-profits as the needs continue.

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