The Pandemic Pivot
Like many nonprofit organizations, the global pandemic brought major change for 2020. The organization survived by finding new ways to continue serving the community while maintaining safe protocols and operating procedures. They closed their facility in May of 2020 to make the transition to a virtual mode of operation. “We didn’t know if we would make it to the end of the year,” Warren says. “We saw a heavy decline in donations, grant funding, and sponsors from small businesses.”
While everyone was suffering during the pandemic, Warren remained focused on the disadvantaged families struggling to make ends meet, especially with the added stress and strain of virtual online schooling and maintaining internet access for families with school-age children. “How will [these families] keep a roof over their heads?” she wondered, as the pandemic gridlocked the nation with lockdowns and paralyzed the economy with uncertainty. “Thank God for a hold on evictions and disconnections on utilities,” which saved many families from being displaced during 2020, Warren says.
One of the ancillary services I Will Survive, Inc. provides is transportation and accompaniment to physician appointments. However, the pandemic ended that service due to social distancing and postponement of most medical visits, other than COVID patients. The organization pivoted yet again and started providing PPE to families in need, to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. “We mailed and delivered care packages with contactless door deliveries. We held virtual workshops and hosted virtual internships for students from University of Georgia, Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Kennesaw State University,” Warren states.
Once courts opened back up, eviction rates skyrocketed again, as did utility disconnections. “We were flooded with applications from families fighting breast cancer. We could not shut down – they needed our help!” Warren and her team immediately sprang into action to raise more funds to help maintain their 100% success rate on preventing evictions.
Despite the challenges, I Will Survive Inc. lives up to its name and continues to survive and thrive. Warren has big goals and ideas for the future of the organization, including growing the footprint, expanding their reach, and increasing revenue by at least 20% to help fund a new virtual Home Ownership Sustainability program, designed to “reduce the generational and situational poverty cycle in disadvantaged communities.”
Another significant goal is to decrease breast cancer deaths by 10% in Fulton and Dekalb counties, as well as maintain a 100% turnout rate for voting in local and national elections among the families they serve. Warren also plans to hire five new staff members over the next two years. “Our greatest needs are funding, human resources, and skill-based volunteers,” Warren states.
Without her supporters, donors, and sponsors throughout metro Atlanta, I Will Survive, Inc. may not have survived the pandemic. Warren expressed heartfelt gratitude for the nonprofit’s partners and local small businesses which have enabled them to serve the community over the past decade. These include The Gathering Spot, Regal Nissan, Ford, Entercom, Cool Dads Rock, Cycle Bar of Buckhead, Jack and Jill Foundation (Stone Mountain chapter), and Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks, who adopted families this year.
“Thank you, Atlanta, for helping us make it to ten years; we hope you will support us through these next ten years, and please let this be a reminder to not only do your monthly self-breast exams, annual clinical exams, and mammograms… but please remind someone you love, as well!” Warren concludes.