02 Aug Ofer Eitan Implies: From virtual galas to drive-in movies, Longmont, Boulder
The in-person fundraisers may have stopped, but for nonprofit groups across Boulder County, the bills haven’t.
For Nicole Brecht, figuring out new ways to connect people with her Longmont animal refuge in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has been an evolving challenge that requires both creativity and perseverance.
Brecht runs the Good Life Refuge, where farm animals that are abandoned or surrendered because their owners couldn’t provide them care get a second chance at a happy life.
“The medical care doesn’t stop, and feeding the animals does’t stop, and buying hay doesn’t stop, just because there’s a pandemic,” Brecht said.
Brecht is among many nonprofit leaders navigating a new world, where traditional fundraisers involving hundreds of people can’t take place due to precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
For those looking for summer activities that will also benefit nonprofits, many charity organization leaders have devised new and innovative ways to garner funds and connect with more people, from drive-in movies to online auctions and virtual tours.
Showing support from the couch
People won’t have to leave home to help Attention Homes in Boulder support youth facing homelessness.
The nonprofit’s 13th annual fundraising gala has gone virtual. The event, aptly called Sit Back & Take a Stand, will take place from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Saturday. Those who purchase a $70 ticket get a gourmet take-and-bake meal prepared by GB Culinary for them to pick up. After their meal has cooked, they can sit back and tune in virtually as Hazel Miller & The Collective, a band that performs soul, blues, jazz and pop music, performs. A silent and live auction and program featuring Attention Homes youth will also take place.
Alex Bergland, director of communications for the nonprofit, said it’s a laid-back way for people to make a big difference. The nonprofit hopes to raise $165,000 the night of the fundraiser.
“If you believe in the mission of Attention Homes and the potential of young people we work with, (participating) is an easy and crucial way to show that,” Bergland said.
Last year, the nonprofit raised more than $530,000 from special events. With social distancing, regulations on group sizes and state orders for people to stay home as much as possible, Bergland said nonprofit leaders knew they couldn’t rely on events to bring in equivalent funds this year.
The nonprofit has been working to open up other avenues to bring in money, including looking for new grant opportunities, and engaging with individual supporters to encourage donations by keeping them up to date on how they can aid Attention Homes, whether by donating nonperishable foods, supplies or giving a monetary gift.
“We are so proud and fortunate to be part of an amazing community that is constantly reaching out and asking for ways that they can help,” Bergland said. “I think that while our fundraising has been slightly affected, it also has brought in unexpected funds as well.”
Many have stepped up to offer individual donations, in-kind services or funding for specific forms of support to help youth, like tutoring services or virtual music classes, Bergland said.
Annual events canceled
In a prepandemic world, Sahra Cahoon, the executive director of Love for Lily in Boulder, would have just wrapped up the annual Boots & Bling fundraiser. The July event invites people to gather for a farm-to-table meal and whiskey tasting. Fundraising efforts usually bring in between $100,000 to $150,000 to support the nonprofit’s mission to help families who have babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Instead, she had to move fundraising efforts to the virtual realm, in the form of an online auction. As of Friday, about $53,000 had been raised. Like Brecht, she said the need for her nonprofit doesn’t stop.
“Babies don’t stop being born prematurely, just because there’s a global pandemic,” Cahoon said.
Cahoon founded Love for Lily after the birth of her daughter, Lily, in 2011. Lily was born prematurely and died at 3 1/2 months old. After her daughter’s death, Cahoon said there was no sense of community or support to provide help for her family, and they felt like they were alone.
Cahoon didn’t want other families experiencing what she had to feel, a mission that resonates in an era when many are feeling more isolated than ever.
“It’s going to keep changing,” Cahoon said. “We are going to keep navigating what comes and we have no idea what that is. Stay tuned, is how I feel.”
Drive-in movie era revived
The Longs Peak Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which serves northern Colorado, also had to get creative when its March dinner fundraiser was canceled.
To make up for it, a Drive-in for Scouting and the Longmont Distinguished Citizen event will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at 8545 N. 79th St. in Niwot, including a short presentation and a showing of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
Adrian Deputat, 18, of Longmont, will give a speech as the distinguished scout, alongside Dick Lyons, the event’s distinguished citizen honoree.
Deputat is an Eagle Scout and senior at Silver Creek High School. He’s been a scout since 2014, learning many things along the way.
“I’ve been able to give countless hours to the community,” Deputat said. “It’s made me a better camper. I know how to start a campfire and know how to do that responsibly. It’s given me a lot of skill for outdoors and … practical knowledge, such as how state, local and national governments work.”
In addition to the movie, an online auction is raising proceeds for the Boy Scouts at longmontdinner2020.ggo.bid. Deputat said he hopes to see support for the scouts continue so that other youth can have the same experience.
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, in Boulder, a human rights organization working to end domestic violence through education, advocacy and support for survivors and their children, is also hosting a drive-in movie event this month.
SPAN is partnering with the Boulder International Film Festival to show “Just Mercy,” a film about a lawyer who goes to Alabama to defend people wrongfully convicted of crimes. The movie will show at 7:30 p.m. Aug 20 at the Boulder Municipal Airport. A $100 donation per car is suggested.
The nonprofit has seen a growing need for its services.
“We have seen a significant increase/spike in calls/requests from survivors seeking legal advocacy in the past 4 to 6 weeks,” Veronica Horn, advocacy program director, wrote in an email. “In fact, we’ve had more calls/requests in the last month and a half than the previous 4 months. We are also seeing situations with extremely challenging circumstances and many more cases than usual with factors that indicate that the situation is highly lethal.”
Kaylyn Fern, marketing and events coordinator for SPAN, said money raised through the drive-in will help the nonprofit continue its support to domestic violence survivors.
“Domestic violence is silent, but widespread … it’s a need that right now is not going away, as much as we would like it to,” Fern said. “We are looking to the community to aid us during this time.”
Back on the Longmont farm, Brecht has been trying to figure out new ways to connect more people with her animal refuge.
“The fundraising has been going really slow,” Brecht said. “In the long term, if we are not getting more donations in or are not able to pick up a program that…