JULY 2020 Deep Creek Times Cover Story

Getting Through the Pandemic: A Nonprofit’s Perspective

Editor’s Note:  This cover article was written and submitted at our request by the leadership of HART for Animals, a local and very deserving animal rescue enterprise.  We wanted to publicize the plight of local nonprofit organizations through a story from one nonprofit’s perspective on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you love animals, want to help a local nonprofit or nonprofits, please consider a donation, as funds are really needed during these times.  Please also consider participation in “The Wine & Weekend Raffle” which is set to “replace” the annual Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival this year.  Thanks in advance for any support you can provide.  Mike

The challenges that everyone has been facing over the past four months is not news.  Businesses are struggling, family members have lost their jobs, and parents are unexpectedly learning how to be teachers. It’s a new world and, for nonprofits, it can be an overwhelming hurdle to stay afloat. HART for Animals, an animal welfare organization located here in Garrett County, is just one of the local nonprofits that has seen a dramatic reduction in donations, grants, and fundraising opportunities due to the impact of COVID-19.

Since 2003, HART for Animals has been rescuing animals from the county shelter and transporting them to larger rescue groups. It became clear that the magnitude of the task required a creative solution, so the organization launched a capital campaign to build a unique facility in the mountains of Western Maryland. It would be a place dedicated to saving the lives of homeless animals with the ability to support itself through revenue centers, grants, private donations, and fundraisers.  The HART Animal Center was completed in 2016, and contains the Adoption Wing for homeless animals, the full-service Bredel Veterinary Clinic, the Bed ‘n Bark Inn pet hotel, and MuttWorks Grooming. The revenue from these services supports the basic functions of the HART Center: rescue, sheltering, adoption, transport, low-cost and no-cost spay/neuter surgeries, and preventive care. HART spends 87% of all its income on programs to save the lives of animals.

HART, in common with  many nonprofits, relies on major fundraising events and activities to support their mission. “As a result of COVID-19, we will not be able to hold most of our fundraising events, including our major event, the Art & Wine Festival,” says Mercedes Pellet, President of HART. “In addition, some of our major foundations have postponed all funding applications until the end of the year, which means that we will have to rely only on revenue from the revenue centers, which will not be enough to support the Adoption Wing,” she adds.

HART has an event almost every month and, with restrictions on gatherings, budget projections for this year show a significant decline.  “Our fundraising projection is about $150,000 this year, “ says Paula Yudelevit, Executive Director of HART. “All events are canceled or postponed with no set dates, but we are looking at finding creative ways to raise much-needed money.” One event, the “Fast & Furriest” fun run/walk, held on June 27, was HART’s first try at virtual activities. The annual fun run and walk normally raises about $5,000 in revenues through sponsorships and race entries.  “Although we didn’t raise what we normally do, we feel the virtual run/walk was successful for our first go at it.”, Yudelevit adds.

The Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival, has been modified to meet the state’s restrictions on social distancing. Now in its 16th year, co-chairs Mary Callis and Paula Yudelevit, and their committee, have developed an opportunity to raise funds for their respective nonprofits, Garrett Lakes Arts Festival (GLAF) and HART. “The ‘Wine & Weekend Raffle’ will be a way to keep the festival in the minds of our patrons while providing much-needed funds for our worthy organizations,” says Mary Callis, Executive Director of GLAF. “GLAF performances for the most part have been canceled, and these funds will ensure a 2021 season and surpasses COVID.”

Combined, the festival provides a total of $60,000 each year toward GLAF’s and HART’s missions. “The cost to house one animal in our Adoption Wing averages $450 per month. The Art & Wine Festival allows us to assess, provide behavior modification, feed, shelter, and provide veterinary assistance to our once-homeless animals,” says Yudelevit.

While in the planning stages, the “Wine & Weekend Raffle” will include five-weekend adventures in Garrett County and include wine-pairing dinners, lodging, an outdoor adventure, and two tickets to the 2021 Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival. The raffle tickets will be limited and include a $10 discount coupon for the 2021 festival.

As restrictions change throughout the remainder of the year and through 2021, HART will continue to find new opportunities to raise funds for homeless animals.  The “HAVE A HART Guest Bartender Challenge,” held annually in May, will be moved to later in the year, if Maryland continues to ease some of the COVID-19 rules.

For additional information on HART, the HART Animal Center, or any of its programs, or to donate, please visit the HART web site at www.hartforanimals.org or become part of the HART for Animals community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HARTforAnimals.