The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resiliency of area nonprofits by increasing the demand for their services and decreasing their revenue income due to canceled programs and fundraisers. In the face of these challenges, local nonprofits have adapted, focused on mission, and remained resilient.

Recognizing the need for flexible funding to help nonprofits respond and adapt, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF), in partnership with the Sisters Health Foundation (SHF), provided operating support grants this summer to nonprofits that provide critical human services.

The Circles Campaign of the Mid-Ohio Valley received a $5,000 operating grant from the PACF and SHF in June. These funds enabled them to continue to provide services to program participants, called Circles leaders. Circles director Lisa Doyle-Parsons reported that "COVID created a huge challenge; adaptation and prioritization was critical in maintaining a sense of connectedness in our Circles community."

The Circles Campaign inspires and equips families in their efforts to transition out of poverty. Once enrolled in the program, Circles leaders attend weekly meetings and are paired with Allies who serve as mentors. Circles leaders work on goal setting, improving their financial literacy, building healthy relationships and lifestyles, pursuing education, developing employment skills, and more.

For the past three years, Circles has offered a summer gardening program to enable families to become more self-sufficient and to easily access healthy foods. This summer, Circles was concerned about continuing the program due to loss of organizational revenue. The operating support grant from the PACF and SHF helped Circles to continue, and even expand, the gardening project. Circles provided families with plants, small and large containers, soil, educational materials, tools, and outdoor class instruction for the project and maintained a community garden location.

"The regular contact with my Circles family has been a real lifeline during this pandemic," said one Circles leader. "The uncertainty caused by COVID has been such a source of anxiety and stress for me and my whole family. The garden project has been so much fun and is something we have been able to do together as a family."