(WAVY)- . 10 On Your Side first highlighted Community Knights in 2018 for their bingo fundraiser. Then, the nonprofit had raised more than $800,000 to give out as grants to school programs and nonprofits in need.
“We were born out of the 2008 recession. Teresa and I were very active in our public schools and in the nonprofit community. We were watching in school board meetings the budget cuts that were happening. Our public schools were currently ranked 40th in the nation for public school funding. I don’t think people realize how many support programs were gutted from our schools and when we are in crisis mode, nonprofits get hit doubly hard. A lot of people donating to them are now people who need their services,” said Brown, a co-founder and CEO of Community.
Fast forward to the pandemic, Brown says during the first couple of months, they were able to provide COVID grants to their partners.
“We had no idea that the 2008 recession was practice for what’s happening today, because COVID and the pandemic has had an exponential impact compared to 2008. We didn’t think that was possible. There is so much more need now and riding out this storm has been so hard for so many,” she said.
The organization used reserve funds from their gift program to help nonprofits including those who helped prevent evictions with rental assistance, child literacy, and food insecurity. Michener says the pandemic nearly wiped them out, but she’s proud of the work they’ve done and the money they’ve been able to raise back. “It’s like we were rebuilding from scratch like when we started our bingo fundraiser in 2013. We basically started almost all over again,” she said. Since, they’ve raised more than $1.6 million to help nearly 100 of their partners and say they have a 91% funding rate.
“Almost $2 million in nine years? Did I think that would happen? No,” Michener said. “But I knew we would make an impact.” The two women say that impact will continue by continuing to help nonprofits as the country enters into an endemic. They are also working on their COACH program, which provides adults with development and/or intellectual disabilities volunteer opportunities at non-profit organizations. Their bingo fundraiser, held on Sunday and Wednesdays, will also continue to help plant seeds for other programs.
“The bingo community does represent our entire community here on the Peninsula,” Michener said. “It’s a cross-section of everyone. They’re quite competitive. They see what happens with the money but they are real competitive about their bingo.” Brown hopes that within the next 10 years, they’ll be able to be engaged with a broader range of programming to continue to invest in the community and be more effective. “There’s a lot of work to do. We want to get closer to a truly inclusive community, ” she said.