Gratitude for nonprofits healing communities

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Our communities have seen too much sorrow and tragedy over the past two years. Flooding, hurricanes, shootings, tornadoes, wildfires, and other tragedies have taken a staggering toll. While we wish such disasters never occurred, we are grateful to the nonprofits that are there at a moment's notice - and in the long haul - to help in the recovery and healing.

The work of some nonprofits is obvious. Red Cross staff and volunteers provide assistance, no matter how large or small the disaster. Food banks that are part of the Feeding America network distribute meals. Other groups, such as Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army, often step forward, lending a hand in recovery and rebuilding.

In addition to the “brand name” nonprofits that many of us look to, countless local nonprofits are always there to help out, including many most of us never hear about as they stretch already overstretched budgets and staff to be there for their neighbors in need. Some nonprofit employees and volunteers are even helping others while wondering what has happened to their own homes. What follows is just a sampling of nonprofits that have made a difference over the last couple of years. We are thankful for these groups and the many, many more helping people in their communities in their hours of need.

  • We are thankful for the mental health nonprofits that help the families and the survivors of the tragic shootings in, sadly, too many places throughout our country.
  • We are thankful to the many nonprofits, including many that might not initially come to mind in this context, that opened their doors to people in need of shelter. A great example is California’s Ventura County Museum, which opened its doors for free to people evacuated during last year's wildfires  – and provided food and activities for kids.
  • We are thankful to the animal rescues in Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and elsewhere for taking in animals that could not evacuate with their owners – and for the many shelters nationwide that cared for animals from areas soon to be hit by major storms, ensuring thousands of dogs, cats, and others were out of harm’s way.
  • We are thankful to the many nonprofits coordinating pro bono legal services for people in the aftermath of these disasters. Understanding insurance programs is difficult under the best of circumstances. Having a helping hand navigating that maze when you need to rebuild a home is priceless. One organization in Florida went even further, lending a hand to domestic violence victims who had to evacuate and ensuring that they could find safe shelter.
  • We are thankful to the many senior-serving nonprofits that went out of their way to provide extra services, from meals to evacuation help, such as Elder Care Services in Tallahassee, described in this story about nonprofits' response to Hurricane Michael. There are many similar stories of nonprofits going the extra mile, and then some, for people with disabilities who may not be able to stay at a traditional shelter.

There are so many other examples of nonprofits stepping up to fill needs that many of us couldn’t possibly anticipate. To every nonprofit, and to every person who works for, volunteers for, or donates to a nonprofit, thank you for the difference you are making every day. 

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