The past two months have been a strange time for all of us as we navigate this new world we were so abruptly forced into. While the impact has been varied, there is one constant – we weren’t prepared for this. We’ve all had to grieve, fight, pivot and find new ways to support one another and our communities through this pandemic.
As a team engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility planning and storytelling, we have had a front row seat to the business response to this crisis. We have seen and helped companies strategically reallocate charitable donations to meet immediate needs, activate virtual volunteer opportunities and establish cross-sector partnerships. We are proud that Colorado’s business community has largely stepped forward not backward in response to COVID-19.
As small business owners, we wrestled with our own response to the pandemic. We have always been a team of passionate, community-minded individuals dedicated to doing and serving in ways that help make our city, our state and our communities better. When faced with a crisis of this magnitude, we struggled to find a meaningful way to help. Words are our superpower. In this moment, we felt like words weren’t enough to make a meaningful difference.
In the weeks following Colorado’s Stay at Home Order, we served as crisis communicators, issues managers and compassionate storytellers on behalf of our clients. Through this work, we started to realize how this service could help other nonprofits in this moment – which is why we volunteered to provide pro bono communications support to Mile High United Way (MHUW) as they navigate the impact COVID-19 is having on our community. MHUW had an immediate and immense increase in call and text volume to 2-1-1, a centralized, multilingual resource for a variety of human services needs across the state. They also created a rapid response fund to quickly disseminate funds to essential nonprofits, partnered with the State of Colorado and other funders for innovative partnerships, and activated other programs all to respond to the unprecedented level of need.
MHUW has an excellent and talented team of program providers, fundraisers and storytellers. However, we knew it was most effective for their time to be spent delivering programs and keeping their network engaged rather than handling the volume of media requests that have come in to share their important work with viewers, listeners and readers. Playing this supporting role has allowed the Barefoot PR team to find purpose in virtual volunteering, and to channel our anxiety about the future into something meaningful. In return, it is our hope we have allowed even just a small amount of extra time to be dedicated to those in need or for program managers to answer even just one more call. We are also hopeful that someone in need may have connected to MHUW through a story we had a part in telling, or that some amount of additional funding has come to MHUW as a result of clear, compassionate communications.
Helping MHUW tell stories of hope, of a united community response and of people helping one another through this pandemic has helped us realized there is still hope and goodness in the world. And I hope it is a reminder for you too.
We are proud of our team. Of the many ways Sarah, Laura, Kathryn, Beth and I have pulled together, given one more hour to clients, and embraced this opportunity to give back even when it feels like so much has been taken away from us. In the end, it turns out words aren’t the antidote to this pandemic, but they are a catalyst for connection and hope.
No matter how big or how small your contribution might be, we encourage you to give your time, your talent, or what resources you have. We need each other to get to the other side of this and we all have a special talent we can contribute.