‘Nonprofit Day’ highlights local organizations tackling challenges to meet community needs

For nonprofits working to carryout the soul mission of helping others in their communities, keeping up to serve those in need has come with many challenges.
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 6:42 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - For nonprofits working to carryout the soul mission of helping others in their communities, keeping up to serve those in need has come with an array of challenges over the past couple years, especially from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Wednesday, August 17 marking National Nonprofit Day, Eyewitness News spoke with two Wichita area nonprofits about how they’re rebounding, working to be better than ever.

The United Way, established in communities around the world is among the largest nonprofits that had to adapt when the pandemic shut down virtually all in-person contact. In the Wichita area, United Way of the Plains did what it could to be there for community members in need.

United Way of the Plains President and CEO Pete Najera joined the organization in August 2020, during the height of the pandemic.

“Nonprofits were challenged on how they do their charitable work when they could no longer be face-to-face with their clients,” Najera said.

While fundraising was a challenge, the nonprofit persevered.

“Our businesses have come back strong since COVID and they’re beginning to give back to nonprofits like the United Way so that we can do even more in our city,” Najera said.

The Kansas Food Bank also has struggled with challenges, first brought on by the pandemic, then by inflation. Operations were required to adapt with fewer volunteers and food shortages. The number of those needing assistance, meanwhile, jumped 40 to 50 percent.

“It was hard for us, but the way we look at it, it was a heck of a lot harder for those families we were trying to serve,” said Kansas Food Bank President and CEO Brian Walker.

With a return to some sense of normalcy, Walker said the challenges of the past two years, combined with community support, strengthened the mission and work at the Kansas Food Bank, and brought their staff together as a family.

“It made it sort of a different calling. We’re all here for a reason,” he said. “This is why we’re really here. Not that we practice for that, but let’s go do this and make sure people have food.”

To kick off its fall fundraising campaign, the United Way is holding its second annual “Impact on the Plains” competition where entrepreneurs have the chance to win $100,000 to come up with and pitch ideas that addresses and aims to solve complex community issues. You can learn more about “Impact on the Plains and how to participate here: https://unitedwayplains.org/impact-on-the-plains/.

If you would like to donate your money, food or time to the Kansas Food Bank, call 316-265-3663, or click here: https://kansasfoodbank.org/how-to-help/.

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