BY MARCY SHORTUSE – It seems like each week we experience a new phase in the COVID-19 crisis. From a lack of groceries to a constant battle with ourselves not to touch our faces, so many every day tasks and situations are somehow hindered by this life-or-death crisis.
Last week we spent a lot of time talking about the meat of the crisis – the fact that our lives could be at stake. This week we are starting to sort out the people who are trying to follow the rules and stay inside, and those who don’t seem to think this virus pertains to them. There has been more than one argument among family members and friends, as some sacrifice their daily routine to stay home, while others continue on with their day as if nothing has changed.
We now have people on our island who no longer have jobs … and there’s a lot of them. Whether they are laid off or their job is gone, their bills aren’t going to get paid. Businesses are losing money in what should be the peak of season. This is a time all of the restaurants, retail shops and real estate businesses look to shore up their annual budget … and that money is stone cold gone.
We can only hope our favorite businesses can weather this storm, but there might be some who never reopen because of this economic disaster.
We want to thank all of the island businesses that closed voluntarily and sacrificed so much to keep us all safe. We have learned that there are people who will ignore all safety warnings from health officials in order to do what they want, and those people would have continued to patronize those establishments. It would have jeopardized the health of employees at the stores, and patrons. So we thank you, so much, for doing the right thing. We don’t need extra people on the island at a time like this, and you all have helped dramatically to assuage that situation.
There is one group that many overlook, though. Our nonprofit organizations are facing a disaster. Look through our story listing closings, cancellations and postponements and you will find every single event we all look forward to attending. Many of those are the biggest fundraisers of the year for organizations. The Barrier Island Parks Society canceled the Green Gala. The Lighthouse United Methodist Church canceled all but one pancake breakfast. Boca Bargains, a major fundraiser for the Boca Grande Woman’s Club, is shut down. The list goes on and on …
The Suncoast Humane Society is in trouble, too. The shelter’s ability to care for dogs, cats and small critters they keep alive has historically relied on the income from the three area thrift stores they operate. Due to the impact of COVID-19, they lost 70 percent of their revenue income. Resources are depleted, but the animals still need help. Much is unknown about Suncoast Humane Society’s future, but during this time a $300,000 matching fund has been set up so you can double your impact. Every dollar you give today will be matched by longtime SHS supporters and Boca Grande residents Elsa and Peter Soderberg. Please help them by giving online today at humane.org or text “SHS” to 26989.
Add up how much money you would spend at each of the fundraisers you attend each season. Please consider sending that money directly to those organizations. You may not have a party to go to or memories of a fancy dinner and dancing experience, but you will have content in your heart knowing that those beloved organizations won’t go under at a time like this.
If you are having trouble getting through to the offices of any of the organizations you choose, please call the Boca Beacon office at (941) 964-2995 and we can put you in contact with someone.
It is a hard request to make – and I trust there will be many other requests in the future that will be just as difficult – but please consider donating generously to nonprofit organizations right now. We can at least give them the peace of mind that they won’t be financially destroyed, even if we still have to fear for our health.
Marcy Shortuse is the editor of the Boca Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.