By Lauren Wixom
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Over the past year, many non-profit organizations in Rochester have struggled for funding. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them are struggling to survive. Non-profit organizations have been negatively impacted due to the financial strain the pandemic has caused. Girls on the Run of Greater Rochester (GOTR) is one organization that has been negatively affected by the pandemic.
GOTR is a non-profit organization which helps to strengthen young girls social, emotional and physical behavioral skills. GOTR offers mentoring programs which use physical activity and dynamic discussions to help build young girls emotional and physical skills in a healthy environment.
GOTR has been struggling during the pandemic due to the lack of volunteers, fundraisers and girls signing up for the program.
Executive director for GOTR, Kelly Fisher has made many changes to the GOTR program during COVID-19. Fisher has helped to implement new changes to the GOTR program throughout the pandemic.
“We rely on our fundraisers for the majority of our revenue,” Fisher said. “Every year we do many fundraisers and a large 5k race at the beginning of the summer. Unfortunately, many of those fundraisers weren’t unable to happen due to COVID-19 restrictions. Due to the cancellation of these fundraisers, the organization has taken a large budget cut. Although, we are now having smaller races instead of our big 5k race we usually do. We are having smaller races in a variety of towns in Rochester,” Fisher said.
Many common fundraising efforts that GOTR and other non-profit organizations usually hold were unable to happen due large gathering restrictions.
“Unfortunately, we have to close our doors this summer to our main Rochester office in Penfield due to budget cuts. We will now be operating virtually for the time being. Even if things were to go back to normal soon, the financial strain that this pandemic has caused is going to last for several years,” Fisher said.
COVID-19 has negatively impacted the lives of so many volunteers and employees that are involved in these non-profit organizations.
“We are very grateful for our advisory board members who have helped us during this tough time. Our board members have attended all our monthly meetings virtually and have helped plan for COVID-19 safe fundraisers for the future,” Fisher said.
Jennifer Palumbo has been an active member on the advisory Board for GOTR since August 2020. Palumbo helps to plan fundraisers, marketing strategies and social media content for GOTR.
“I have been very involved and volunteered for GOTR for years before I became an advisory board member. I wanted to become a member during the pandemic because, I understood how badly non-profits had been struggling and I wanted to help. I wanted to help come up with ideas for new fundraisers and for the 5k races that would follow all of the COVID-19 rules and restrictions,” Palumbo said.
During the pandemic there were not as many girls signing up for GOTR however, there were some girls that signed up and attended the program virtually over zoom.
Anna Giallanza, a sixth grader at Aquinas Middle School, was in the GOTR program during the fall of 2020. Giallanza’s experience at GOTR during the pandemic was very different than the pre-Coronavirus pandemic GOTR program.
“This was my first year in the Girls on the Run program and, even though it was online I still had a lot of fun. I made new friends and learned a lot with my coach and mentor over zoom. We did many different exercises and talked about our feelings during the pandemic and how we were all handling it,” Giallanza said.
GOTR plans to move forward by continuing to grow its programs under all COVID-19 guidelines and become more involved with the Rochester community through their social media accounts. Although the pandemic had many negative effects on GOTR, the organization still found ways to continue their program and help positively impact young girl’s lives.