In recent weeks, it's been difficult to ignore the news surrounding the most recent government shutdown in the U.S. The shutdown, which began on December 22, 2018, has had major implications across the country. The lapse in federal dollars has also impacted crucial social services like food assistance and housing.
In light of the shutdown, the nonprofit sector isn't standing by while its constituents face uncertainty. Instead, nonprofits do as nonprofits do: serve their communities in times of need.
Nonprofits and libraries are showing resilience by stepping in to provide public services when the government is unable to. Read on for just a few stories of organizations taking action to fill in the gaps left by the government.
Basic Needs Organization Expands Services to Government Employees
The government shutdown has threatened federal employees' abilities to provide for themselves and their families, and a Lakewood, Colorado–based nonprofit has answered the call to help. The Action Center, which provides basic human needs to Lakewood community members, is reaching out to support furloughed government employees, CBS Denver reports.
The Action Center supports struggling populations within Lakewood County through a variety of services, including food and rent assistance and job support. On a Facebook post made on January 2, The Action Center invited those affected by the government shutdown to schedule an appointment with the organization. The Action Center then works to connect the people with the support they need.
A Denver 9News report notes that the Federal Center in Lakewood County is just a few miles away from The Action Center. As the days of the shutdown continue, The Action Center has seen some of the 6,200 people who work at the Federal Center take advantage of the help provided.
Most of the federal employees who've visited The Action Center are doing so for the first time. Nevertheless, the staff and volunteers at The Action Center are welcoming these employees with respect and support just as they have been doing for the community for the past 50 years.
Nonprofit Provides Financial Support to Furloughed Coast Guard Members
In the current shutdown, some federal offices, like the Department of Defense, remain open. But government funding is complex. The Coast Guard, despite being a branch of the military, runs under the Department of Homeland Security, which remains underfunded as a result of the shutdown.
According to NBC News, this means that 42,000 active-duty Coast Guard members are working without pay until the shutdown ends. One nonprofit is doing what it can to make up for the $150 million needed to pay the Coast Guard workforce each payday.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance is an independent nonprofit that supports both active and former Coast Guard members and their families. It's offering amounts up to $500 to junior enlisted Coast Guard members during the shutdown. Its goal is to provide some economic relief to Coast Guard workers, taking care of these members as they continue to protect our shores.
Food Safety Nonprofit Calls On the Government to Protect Its Citizens
The government shutdown affects one of the most fundamental aspects of life: reliable access to food. For furloughed employees, lack of income jeopardizes their ability to quite literally put food on the table for themselves and their families.
But it doesn't stop here. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is one of the many governmental offices whose operations have been slowed down in light of the shutdown, and since December 29, the FDA has ceased routine food inspections. But one food safety nonprofit, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is using its voice to speak on behalf of citizens everywhere whose safety is compromised by the lack of regulated food.
In a statement released on January 8, 2019, CSPI deputy director of regulatory affairs, Sarah Sorscher, calls on the FDA to serve its citizens by increasing transparency surrounding the impact of the shutdown and what its plans are to keep people's food sources safe.
Sorscher says that the halting of regular food inspections "puts [our] food supply at risk." As advocates for their community, nonprofits like CSPI are stepping up and calling on their government officials to act, using courage to speak truth to the valid concerns shared by their constituents in uncertain times.
These and the many other stories about nonprofits' service to the community are a testament to the essential role of these types of organizations in our society. We're proud to be a member of this resilient, enduring group of individuals who do not shy away in the face of adversity. Instead, as challenges become greater, so does the nonprofit community's commitment to solving them.
We want to hear from you: How is your nonprofit responding to the #governmentshutdown? Share a picture of your nonprofit in action on Twitter or Instagram using #nonprofitsstandup #governmentshutdown and tag @techsoup. We'll share your story of resilience and hope with our community.