The Last 2021 Member Service Highlight
Alongside our Community Shares Coffee-Break series: Where Are We Now? we have been highlighting our member nonprofits' work through our #memberservicehighlights marketing campaign via Friday emails, social media posts, and our website!

Today's final Member Service Highlight features Center for Work Education and Employment, Colorado Health Network, The Gathering Place, and Women's Bean Project. Keep reading where they are a year into the pandemic and how you can support!
Center for Work Education and Employment
The Center for Work Education and Employment (CWEE) supports vulnerable workers, mostly single moms, to train for and launch careers.
How have your programs have grown, changed, or evolved to become a key community service during this time?
In response to COVID-19, CWEE pivoted operations to be fully remote for staff and participants and suspended in-person programming. Activities were moved to be in a virtual format; case management and mental health support are offered via virtual meeting conference, skill building classes and adult education are offered through an online platform, and basic needs support continues via socially distant drop-offs. CWEE has successfully created a useful virtual program that can allow for work to continue throughout the uncertain times of COVID-19.

Have any unexpected opportunities arisen for your organization's work in this past year?
CWEE’s virtual programming and 1:1 coaching allows for people to develop skills at their own pace, from where they live. The program is available 24/7 to align with times that parents are able to focus without interruption, and CWEE’s staff structure is designed to provide robust support for every area of a participant’s learning, career exploration, and employment journey – even while remote.

What can the community do to help?
When CWEE pivoted to remote services due to COVID-19, it became clear that access to technology, internet, and digital literacy skills are must-haves to set someone up for success which in turn revealed new barriers for participants. Therefore, we are asking for laptop donations and have partnered with a fellow member nonprofit of Community Shares, PCs for People to refurbish laptop donations of any age and condition. We also welcome donations to our general operations as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic where our work to upskill career seekers and help them find gainful employment is more important than ever.
Colorado Health Network
Provides a continuum of programs including oral and physical care; counseling and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS and other health conditions across Colorado.
How have your programs have grown, changed, or evolved to become a key community service during this time?
CHN has expanded its medical case management as well as its medical clinic services to families of those living with HIV and not to just the individual themselves who are living with HIV. This is a huge shift and expansion in the care we provide and has more than doubled the services we are allowed to offer to families that need it most.

Have any unexpected opportunities arisen for your organization's work in this past year?
Virtual programs and online events have allowed us to engage with members from across the entire state in a more effective way. As a statewide organization that is headquartered in Denver, it is easy to feel like the focus is solely on the Denver programs. COVID has given us a unique opportunity to engage with other members of the community virtually, and we plan to continue these virtual components post-COVID to continue expanding our reach.

What can the community do to help?
CHN needs support with our prevention program. Due to the major budge cuts, the program is seeing major changes that will ultimately hurt the Colorado community. It is important that we maintain our prevention programs as they are the frontline defense for fighting HIV, so your support of this program is extremely valuable and appreciated at this time.
The Gathering Place
Denver's only daytime resource center for women, transgender individuals, and children experiencing deep poverty. TGP meets basic needs, fosters personal growth, and builds supportive community.
How have your programs have grown, changed, or evolved to become a key community service during this time?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to The Gathering Place (TGP). During March and April of 2020, TGP worked closely with other shelter-providing agencies in the Denver metro area, and with the City and County of Denver to create new emergency shelter locations in the city to de-densify current shelters and reduce the risk of COVID transmission, as well as convert existing overnight shelters to operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The collaboration also operated the 24/7 Auxiliary Shelter for women and transgender adults at the Denver Coliseum, which opened April 20, 2020. On August 4, 2020, guests were moved from this shelter to a former motel property owned by Denver Housing Authority. TGP is now solely responsible for operating daytime services and staffing at the motel shelter location In addition to sheltering. In addition to sheltering, TGP experienced a dramatic increase in demand for food from our food pantry, Betsy’s Cupboard. Food pantry visits increased by 55%, and we have distributed 63% more pounds of food compared to the same period in 2019. Lastly, in the past few months, we have also seen increased participation in our employment assistance programs and programs targeted to families, and have been refocusing our efforts on providing more robust engagement with our members to achieve longer-term outcomes, including assistance with obtaining housing and overcoming other barriers to exiting and achieving recovery from homelessness and poverty. This includes the addition of a new Case Management program and additional staff to be hired in our Physical and Mental Health Program.

Have any unexpected opportunities arisen for your organization's work in this past year?
Because TGP began to work closely with other shelter providers in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conversion of overnight shelters to 24/7 shelters reduced the need for some services that TGP had previously provided at its principal location, including showers, meals, and laundry services. As a result, TGP saw 30% fewer people come to TGP for services, and a 47% reduction in the number meals served onsite as compared to the previous year. This provided the opportunity for TGP to shift focus onto higher level needs, including case management, additional staff support in the Physical and Mental Health Program, and increased numbers of members being connected to housing resources.

What can the community do to help?
If you are a nonprofit you can help us by sharing social media content, providing up to date information on services other nonprofits are providing so we can make productive referrals, and sharing information on upcoming workshops, funding opportunities, etc. Otherwise, donations to general ops, sign ups to volunteer or gather volunteers, engaging with us on social media, or becoming a monthly donor are all very impactful and helpful at this time.
The Gathering Place
Women's Bean Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization changing women's lives by providing stepping-stones to self-sufficiency through social enterprise.
How have your programs have grown, changed, or evolved to become a key community service during this time?
Women's Bean Project has been very fortunate to fall under the guidelines of a critical business. This has afforded us to remain open, allowing our women to remain employed and earning a paycheck. Our women have graduated and secured full-time position within the community and we have been able to continue hiring monthly as the number of unemployed women increases. That said, we have pivoted our programming and many other aspects of our business to virtual. This required us to purchase new technical equipment; however, we also learned this new technology will remain long after the pandemic. The pandemic has opened our eyes to new and different ways to operate our nonprofit.

Have any unexpected opportunities arisen for your organization's work in this past year?
WBP experienced significant sales over the past year beginning in February/March of 2020. As the year and the pandemic continued, our sales have continued to increase. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, unbeknownst to us, one of our donors who is a contributing writer to the NY Times put us in the NY Times Wellness Gift Guide and in 5 days we had more orders than we would normally receive in the entire 8 weeks of the holidays. The orders actually stalled our website and we finally had to show all products out-of-stock for most of December just to meet the demand of those orders in the system. This also proved to be a challenge as we couldn't hire the number of women the business demanded due to COVID-19 distancing guidelines so, we focused on the women producing only and the administrative team would come in on a second shift to preserve distancing and do all the shipping at night. We maintained this schedule through New Year's.

What can the community do to help?
We ask you to continue to share Women's Bean Project with any woman who may need our services as well as purchase and share about purchasing our products in stores and online. We welcome you to also support by volunteering your time and talent as we get closer to allowing volunteers into the building. Additionally, we invite you to our annual Graduation Celebration and Fundraising event is on April 28th at noon. This is a 30-minute VIRTUAL event to celebrate our graduates from the last year and fundraise for the next 12 months of women we will serve. You will get to hear stories from many women currently in the program and some graduates as well, and because it's virtual, your network can be anywhere within the US.
Designate a gift to these incredible nonprofits and support the amazing work they do to serve our communities even during difficult times.
Community Shares of Colorado
303.861.7507www.cshares.org
Community Shares, 789 Sherman Street, Suite 230, Denver, CO 80203