On the Frontline: Nonprofits During COVID-19 – Part 1

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
– Winston Churchill

This quote by Churchill, famous for leading Britain during their darkest hour in World War II, illustrates how we at Community First view our incredible nonprofit clients. You are all giving to our community to make it a better place. And now you are also fighting a war against the impact of the Coronavirus. What you give and how you make a life for our community is crucially important.

As a nonprofit, you always give to others who are in need. The initial reason you started your organization still exists. But now COVID-19 has probably changed your strategy. It is a major medical emergency. And with it come other issues, too. With millions out of work, stay-at-home measures increasing domestic violence situations, and the lack of funds for food becoming a huge concern, the ripple effect has just started. We will feel the tidal wave of impact in the coming months.

What are you, our front-line nonprofits, doing? In this two-part blog series, we at Community First checked in with several of you to find out.


Mary Maupai, Development Director, Safe Harbor


Mission:  Safe Harbor’s mission is to provide the support that survivors of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking need to overcome their crisis and to transform their lives.  We envision that every person in our community can take pride in having safe homes and healthy relationships.

In all of our programs, we work from a trauma-informed and empowerment-focused lens. We see each survivor as the expert of their own experiences and strive to create a safe and welcoming space for all. Our goals are to help clients understand and address the impact of trauma and build resilience.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the people you support and help?

As you can imagine, being at home with your abuser is not an ideal situation. While we support the governor’s stay at home requirements, survivors can’t leave to get a reprieve. They are really isolated during the quarantine. Counselling sessions and phone calls are challenging when the abuser and the survivor’s kids are at home, as they may not want them to listen in.

It’s a challenging environment for our counselors to connect with our clients. We have to be creative. We have implemented virtual counseling using Blue Jeans, a HIPAA compliant video conferencing software. We conduct phone check ins, email check ins, and text check ins. In addition to using those tools, we still hold support groups with virtual technology.

We still have shelters running, and we are doing case management. We even found a way to keep the food pantry (which shut down due to our community offices being closed) available by wheeling the items to the vestibule of our building and allowing clients to access it individually to get what they need. Clients make appointments for the food pantry and shop. It’s a huge help to them because their finances are super tight. In some cases, since many have lost jobs, it is a choice for them between rent and food.

What does your nonprofit need right now? What will your nonprofit need in the future?

Financial gifts would be the most useful right now. We also ask for Kroger gift cards for purchasing food and cleaning supplies for clients.

In Richmond, we’ve seen a 7% increase in domestic violence incidents from January through mid-April. According to the World Health Organization, in countries where the shutdown is lifted from COVID-19, there is a 30-40% increase in demand for services. We realize from this that the big impact from the pandemic will really hit later. We want to be in a position where we won’t have to cut services. We want to be here tomorrow when surge in demand comes.

What message do you want to give to the people in our community?

We want people to understand that COVID-19 has had an impact on everybody, but those who are most vulnerable are impacted the most. Right now, instead of using the money to get out of their situation, survivors must use it to survive. Their finances have been depleted. We at Safe Harbor are aware of the economic impact on everyone but if people could give a gift, no matter how small, that would be amazing.

We are helping people apply for benefits. Not every landlord is understanding so we are helping people find resources to help with rent and housing. We don’t want them to feel their only choice is to go back to their abuser.

We are so thankful to those who have reached out and made gifts already. It’s going to take a team effort, however. No gift is too small, and you can easily donate through the “Donate Now” button on our website.




Andy Kaufmann, Executive Director, Checkpoint One



Mission: Checkpoint One provides non-riding Equine Assisted Therapies, Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation and other stress management-nature-infused services with a focus on PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) as well as ERES (Emergency Responder Exhaust Syndrome), to any status military and first responders (fire, police, EMS, caregivers, etc.) at no cost. We have developed a unique “out of the box” program that provides tools and methods to give to our clients which can help understand the trauma and turn it into growth.


How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the people you support and help?


It has directly impacted us. Most everything we do is outside with the horses, and with the Governor’s mandate about not opening back up until early June, we’ve had to migrate to video technology. Horse-care (daily) and farm maintenance is coordinated between myself, Mary Margaret (Signorelli) (our Mental Health Professional), and  Kristin (Fitzgerald) (our Equine Director). Sometimes our clients want to see the horses and donkeys, so we can use video to do that, either from the Checkpoint One farm, my farm or Mary Margaret’s farm. Technology allows us to do that, but it’s not the same. The internet can be a challenge sometimes…we might start a video and end up changing to a phone call because we are out in the country and the internet is not great out here.


We can’t have people at the farm until the social distancing requirements in Virginia are lifted. The hardest part is that 95% of who we support are considered essential because they are the first responders and their coming to the farm offered them respite – even if it is for an hour each week…it may be the only time that they get a break to just be.


What does your nonprofit need right now? What will your nonprofit need in the future?


Right now, we need monetary donations. We received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) approval for two months of salary, which will take us to July. We’ve done some fundraising; however, donations are slim right now. We have received donations to take us through to October without any unforeseen issues, but  unless we get some grant money or donations, we will have issues after that.


The hard part about the grants process is that we are finding that most really small non-profits, such as ours, are just not getting approved. We continue to apply and continue to get the “thanks for applying, but no” replies.


If we have to cease operations, there will be a huge void. We are the only organization that does what we do, as a non-profit, and at no cost to our clients in the central Virginia region. We do have a plan to open Checkpoint One to the public and provide a cost service for those outside of our usual population. I’m thinking about those folks that may work in schools or stores that have suffered loss or other issues because of the pandemic. There is a lot of grief out there and there isn’t much for people to use, especially for small and other business groups. This would help bring needed cash flow into our programs.


On Giving Tuesday, we raised around $1k which is great, but often we find people want to give to the big organizations that have a huge operating budget. We do social media reach out which helps. We do have people who give. Amy Garelick (from PowerUp Video) is working on a video for us which we are hoping will help people really hear and see what we do.


There are folks who wants to get us featured on Ellen DeGeneres to bring a bigger voice to what we and other small non-profits like ours do, and we appreciate that.

What message do you want to give to the people in our community?

We aren’t going anywhere! We are supporting the people who support our community in all aspects. Please, if you know someone, a first responder, someone in the military, who would benefit from what we do, pass on our information.

We would love to have another mental health professional in addition to Mary Margaret on our team who helps with and is familiar with the first responder/military community as well as trauma. If there are any that would like to volunteer client services for a couple of clients a week, that would be outstanding.

We also have to maintain the farm. And our tractor and bush hog keep breaking. We could use help. Recently we had a group that came out, social distancing, and mowed the property, all 30 acres. We are so very grateful for that kind of support.

We can be reached at info@checkpointone.org, or through the CONTACT US form on our website, www.checkpointone.org

How Can We Help You?

Contact our office or submit a business inquiry online.