Negotiating the COVID 19 crisis has been challenging for any not-for-profit organization, charity or business and Affirmative Ventures was no exception. We faced significant setback or closure with the loss of our customers, program participants, and the loss of affordable living units in the community. Not only did Lori pivot with this challenge she found opportunity where many found angst and despair.
Lori developed and implemented a COVID-19 safety plan which focused on living and working with the reality of a COVID-19 world long before others could see the need for this long-term view. Her plan allowed us to serve our customers in new ways and allowed tenants who were already suffering in some social isolation due to their regular challenges of living with mental illness to maintain good social connection. Under Lori’s plan we were able to maintain our social enterprise structures by ensuring the viability of our employment training by adapting our retail businesses to meet the unique COVID challenges.
Specifically, Lori took our business Pet Stuff On The Go online, resulting in an extension of our client base and, together with are invigorated curbside delivery, we were able to continue servicing our clients and grow the business.
She adopted our business AV Moving Services to meet the ongoing needs of a busy rental market by providing curb to curb service, and we expanded our U-Haul business allowing for access to new 24/7 rental boxes and the ability to rent and access services completely online.
Lori provided Zoom and Skype training sessions to our programme facilitators so that the 12 weeks Ready to Work and financial literacy programs could continue with Lori finding the necessary hardware and internet access (with the support of community partners like the United Way) so that all could participate and benefit.
And most important, before doing any of the above, Lori implemented measures to ensure that our housing tenants also had the means to participate in meetings, check- ins, and communication with family and friends to insure that COVID-19 did not further isolate our tenants from their community.
She quickly found that many people we serve were reaching out for assistance with the government restrictions, their own work
In partnership with various funders, she helped the Second Harvest Food Rescue programme provide and deliver food hampers on a regular basis to participants in need.
And finally, noting the loss of affordable living units during this time, Lori found creative opportunities to help community members by expanding our housing units and helping clients find safe shared housing opportunities among our existing clientele.
Lori Edgar’s long-term commitment to this organization is exemplary and noteworthy for this nomination.
(These excerpts have been taken from the Nominators’ writeups.)