Give4Marion aims to uplift struggling local nonprofits

The term “nonprofit organization” is really a misnomer. Sure, nonprofits don’t make a profit, per se. But to think no one profits from their existence is folly.

The fact is, communities, including ours, could not maintain their quality of life without the contributions of nonprofits. Those good deeds, performed by literally hundreds of nonprofit organizations across Ocala/Marion County, not only uplift lives, but spare local government and businesses the expense, both financial and human, that comes with addressing everything from drug addiction and mental illness to homelessness and hunger.

That is never more evident than during tough times, like a global pandemic. As jobs have been lost and businesses pared back since COVID-19 became part of not only our lexicon but our lives, the nonprofits have been called upon with ever-increasing regularity to give those who are hurting a hand.

Now, our nonprofits are hurting, too. They can’t hold fund raisers, and many donors are experiencing hard times themselves. To give our nonprofits a hand, the Community Foundation of Ocala/Marion County is sponsoring Give4Marion on Oct. 20, a one-day fund-raising event aimed at boosting our nonprofits and awakening the community to just how much these organizations do.

No one knows for sure what the economic impact of our nonprofits is – the Nonprofit Business Council of the Community Foundation is working on it – but it does not take a sociologist or an economist to figure that in our community of 370,000 alone it would amount to millions of dollars every year, probably tens of millions.

Imagine if the Salvation Army did not serve up some 100,000 meals every year to feed the hungry. Who would?

What if the Arnette House did not open its doors to more than 1,200 troubled teens who have run away or been kicked out of their homes?

Brothers Keeper helps the downtrodden and homeless with food, clothing and counseling 91,000 times a year. What if it didn’t?

What would happen to the 1,500 sexually and physically abused children who annually find protection and care at Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection?

Suppose the Public Education Foundation did not provide teaching grants and classroom to supplies to more than 2,000 Marion County teachers every year.

And there’s Veterans Helping Veterans, which annually helps 4,800 veterans find housing, work, health care and an array of financial assistance. Without them, who would reach out to and advocate for our former warriors?

We live in a county where half of our residents either live in poverty or do not earn enough to cover their basic monthly living expenses – that, according to the United Way of Florida’s ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report. In other words, the working poor.

And when those households run into a rough patch, where do they turn? Our nonprofits. Food from Interfaith. Health care from the Heart of Florida Health Center. Clothing from Brother’s Keeper.

“Our nonprofits are doing so much in our community to help those who are in need,” said Lauren Deiorio, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “If our nonprofits go away, what does that look like?”

Not good, to be sure.

Deiorio said not only are nonprofits suffering from more demand and fewer donations, but they “are gong to lag behind for-profits in recovering.”

Give4Marion has a three-fold mission, she said: “On this day, we come together to raise as much money as possible for local nonprofits, to connect donors to community needs, and to strengthen nonprofit capacity and sustainability.”

Karla Grimsley, executive director of Interfaith Emergency Services and chairman of the Nonprofit Council, said Give4Marion may be the best, last hope for some local nonprofits.

“This is hopefully gong to be a lifeline for a lot of nonprofits,” she said. “I can’t stress how important this is to so many of them. Our needs are so great.”

If you are interested in more information, go online to Give4Marion.org. Because if we don’t help keep our nonprofits healthy, who will take care of the tens of thousands of our neighbors who rely on them for a helping hand?

No, nonprofits don’t turn a profit, but what they do for our community is priceless.

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