The Amani Center (Columbia County Child Abuse Assessment Center) and Columbia Pacific Food Bank, the county’s regional food bank, have decided to postpone their community fundraising events in response to the current rise in COVID-19 cases and to heed the warnings and suggestions provided by the Oregon Health Authority.
In a release, the two nonprofits said with stronger mask mandates in place and the need for additional precautionary measures in large social gatherings, neither organization felt it could provide the experience they were hoping with their fundraising events.
“In April, when we started planning this event, all trends indicated that an outdoor, in-person gathering would be highly likely to be held by September 2021," Amani Center Development Coordinator Beth Pulito said. "As case counts began to rise, especially in our county’s children, which is our main focus of health and safety in our agency’s mission, we could not, in good conscience, move forward with our event. Additionally, we really wanted to deliver what our guests were expecting and we felt that trying to make additional COVID-friendly accommodations to our already COVID-cautious plans would just create an event that wasn’t what our supporters had committed to. We are sad to cancel this year’s event but we know it was the right thing to do, and we are committed to holding it next year in the manner it was intended. We will utilize many of the donated items we have received to shift to an online auction that will still go live on September 18.”
“So far, all of our sponsors and supporters have been understanding and supportive in our decision,” Columbia Pacific Food Bank Development Director Meagan Fawcett said. “Some have even asked us to shift their investment towards our mission needs this year, encouraging us to ask for a renewed sponsorship commitment next year, when we’re able to hold the event. The aspects of our fishing derby that set it apart and made it unique were the parts we were going to have to cancel. Instead of holding an event that fell short of our aspirations and lacked the engagement we were eager to provide, we felt that canceling the event was the better choice for this year. In the long run, it will preserve the integrity and intentions of an event we intend to turn into an exciting annual gathering.”
The agencies took different approaches in reaching their decisions, however, both Pulito and Fawcett said that their conversations with each other as they gathered information, weighed the pros and cons, and considered the health and safety risks to the community were helpful in informing their decisions.
"It’s never easy to make a decision like this, but having a reputable community partner to collaborate with, and in this instance commiserate with, is helpful,”Fawcett said.
“I’m thankful we came to the same conclusion;" Pulito said. "It’s painful, but I feel like it’s easier to walk through this together and shows our community that we’re united in the same decision.”