A PARTNERSHIP OF NONPROFITS was represented during a gathering at the Owosso Armory on Wednesday, Sept. 15 to introduce a COVID-19 Response Project Report. The report offers considerable positive insight on how Shiawassee County nonprofit organizations were able to pivot in response to the pandemic over recent months.

   Shown (from left) are Shiawassee Family CEO Laura Archer and Durand Union Station Executive Director Mary Warner-Stone standing with report partners Tom Cook of the Cook Family Foundation and Jamie Gaskin of United Way of Genesee-Serving Shiawassee. A third partner, Kim Renwick of the Shiawassee Community Foundation, was unable to attend.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


  A forum of representatives from local nonprofits that included Tom Cook of the Cook Family Foundation (CFF) and Jamie Gaskin of United Way of Genesee-Serving Shiawassee, met at the Armory in downtown Owosso on Wednesday, Sept. 15 to introduce a Nonprofit COVID-19 Response Project Report. Kim Renwick of the Shiawassee Community Foundation was one of the three partnered in offering the critically valuable information to the public, but she was unable to attend. Renwick was particularly instrumental in helping with Giving Tuesday NOW last spring.

  Cook explained that as the pandemic started, the Cook Family Foundation and United Way, which have worked together for a many years, “found ourselves working closely with all of the nonprofits, with the health department and the emergency response center at the county,” describing several good relationships during a trying and difficult time. At the start of summer 2021, Cook, Gaskin and other nonprofit partners thought the pandemic was nearing an end, so a report was commissioned through the Nonprofit Network to collectively gather data on what had been learned during COVID-19. The full report is available at cookfamilyfoundation.org.

   The COVID-19 Response Project Report reveals numerous positives about Shiawassee County nonprofit organizations, particularly distinguishing strengths in areas of cooperative planning, communication and networking – clearly establishing the importance of maintaining relationships between various groups.

   A number of nonprofit leaders were interviewed by the Nonprofit Network to create the report, resulting in many useful takeaways. A few takeaway items include adaptability in creating new approaches in providing any/all needed services, addressing inequities such as food insecurity and transportation, creating and maintaining relationships between organizations, communicating with others in times of crisis and utilizing new technology as it allows for online services, etc.

   The report, as offered in the introduction by Sharon Castle, a Nonprofit Network Capacity Building Consultant, states that the “nonprofit community rose to the challenge by reaching out to one another, governmental entities, state legislators and the private sector; identifying needs and resources; and quickly pivoting to deliver services with little or no interruption.”

   The report continues with, “The Cook Family Foundation realized much could be learned by how Shiawassee area nonprofits responded to the COVID crisis to sustain their organizations and assist the community. To that end, Nonprofit Network was commissioned to provide a report highlighting the role nonprofits played in meeting community needs, including what might be transferable to assist other nonprofits in maintaining a ‘bold’ mindset post –COVID.”

   In short, the report is an educational tool underscoring strong cooperative, collaborative and communicative efforts in assisting to the success of community nonprofit groups, even during times of economic, social or environmental stressors.

Lessons Learned from Local Nonprofit was last modified: September 21st, 2021 by Karen Elford