Across the nation, countless nonprofit organizations are suffering from lack of funding, another casualty caused by COVID-19. As social distancing continues and the unemployment rate grows, nonprofits, which rely on the generosity of donors and volunteers, struggle.
The East End, in particular, is set to see an unprecedented number of charity events cancelled or postponed. These gatherings are key to organizations meeting their annual operation budgets.
The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, for example, has canceled two months’ worth of events. However, it is aiming to bring in donations while adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines by virtually “non-inviting” the public to not attend The Greatest Party That Never Was, on April 30. The goal is to raise $25,000 for the shelter.
Katie McEntee, director of adoptions and public relations at the shelter, created the concept. The invite reads, “This is a very fake event for a very real cause. You have to miss this. Stay at home, forget the Uber, and definitely do not get your hair done.”
Guests are invited to stay at home with their pet and donate from the comfort of their own couches by clicking the “don’t show up” button on the website. After purchasing a virtual ticket, which starts at $25, the party absentee may then submit a photo of owner and pet. The image will then be included in a virtual photo collage on the shelter’s Facebook and Instagram pages on the night of April 30.
“Along with the rest of America, we are watching the news closely and making adjustments to our calendar day by day,” said Barbara Maresca, interim co-executive director of upcoming events. “For now, we have canceled events through the month of April. We will make a call on May events within the next week or so.”
While the Southampton Animal Shelter is currently closed to visitors, it is offering Roadside Adoptions and Fosters, a program designed to help pets find homes while keeping with social distancing guidelines. Within the first two weeks of social distancing, over half of the shelter’s dogs were placed into foster homes, and 12 puppies were adopted in only two days.
“We have been overwhelmed by the number of responses to help our shelter during this time. We received so many applications to foster and to adopt our shelter pets,” McEntee said. “The community has been supporting our staff as well, calling and sending goodies to help keep our spirts high. Our staff is amazing and so dedicated. I am lucky to work with such amazing, animal-centric people.”
Animals can be extremely therapeutic to their owners, which is particularly true during times of crisis. Through companionship and unconditional love, pets improve both physical and mental health. They alleviate loneliness, lower depression, and increase activity levels. As an essential business, the shelter foundation remains open. Dogs go for walks and continue training, kennels and cages are cleaned, and staff is on site to care for any medical needs.
McEntee said, “For humans, right now our way of life has changed. Our pets, however, have not felt any changes, which speaks volumes to our staff’s dedication and love.”
Visit www.southamptonanimalshelter.com to not attend The Greatest Party That Never Was and see a list of available animals for fostering or adoption. You can also fill out an application right online.