Nonprofits: Pivoting Under Pressure

Katelyn Willoughby

Katelyn is fired up about communication, marketing, business development, and working with diverse leaders in the North Bay to help them carry out their missions.

Stories from the nonprofit sector

Thank you to the more than 100 organizations that shared their stories and information with us, so that we might better understand how to support the sector and in turn support those who are served by these nonprofits. In particular, thank you for your comments that provided a window into your experience. Read the stories below. Want to submit your own? Email kwilloughby@cvnl.org.


I feel so fortunate to have such a strong team of committed and adaptable professionals at Community Matters. Our programs and services are primarily delivered in person through the schools, so when the schools moved to distance learning it was very uncertain how we would continue to support them. Within only a few weeks of the schools being closed and sheltering in place, we quickly realized that the schools were still in need of our support. Our team, with reduced staff and hours, was able to quickly adapt our programs and services to virtual delivery. This was no small feat, because so much of our programs are about connectivity and relationship building. We have been operating our Safe School Ambassadors student empowerment, peer-peer prevention program for over 20 years and that knowledge base allowed us to find ways to engage, connect and empower students in the new virtual world. Adapting to the virtual world has not been smooth and without challenge, but it has proven to be effective. Kids are coming to Virtual Family Group meetings to stay connected and continue their important work as Ambassadors. After all, one of the things we know kids and adults are lacking in these COVID times is connection and relationships, and that is what we do so well at Community Matters. Moving to virtual has given us a new outlet to carry out our mission and support youth and educators.

— Erica Vogel, CEO, Community Matters

If Given A Chance: From an abused and distraught teenager to leading the Infectious Prevention Management at our local Napa Valley hospital, Queen of the Valley Medical Center, Gianna Peralta is a rising star. She is a graduated New Technology High School as a valedictorian. Gianna was the first in her family to graduate college. She was determined to successfully use education as her path to a positive future where she could contribute through her interest in public health. There were times, especially in her first year as a freshman when it was difficult and she was not sure she could succeed. With the mentoring and guidance of the Student Services Manager frequent phone calls and staying close in touch and the financial award throughout her undergraduate years. Gianna received her Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree in Epidemiology and Bio-statistics from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She then served two years as an infectious disease fellow, as part of a post-graduate fellowship in applied epidemiology with the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health in Atlanta. We are so fortunate that Gianna decided to return to Napa where she was hired at the Queen of the Valley Medical Center. In her current role at Queen of the Valley, Gianna oversees hospital surveillance, reporting, and prevention of hospital-acquired infectious. Her work involves serving as a subject matter expert, educator, and consultant, in prevention of communicable diseases and upholding patient safety. At this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, her work and expertise could not be more important to our community. She is driven by her compassion to help others, and the deeply rooted belief that we are not defined by our past adverse experiences, but rather are stronger for having overcome them.

— Janna Waldinger, Student Services Manager, If Given A Chance

The Marin County Free Library stepped up and coordinated the development of a Hotspot Lending Library – for 850 students/families to ensure they could access distance learning. Due to strong relationships with school districts with the greatest need, Marin Promise Partnership was able to support this effort by connecting the Library with school districts needs, tracking progress and fundraising. The Library staff went above and beyond to not only meet the immediate emergency, but to set up a sustainable system of providing internet connectivity that will live beyond this crisis. By centralizing this service, they have the ability to track ongoing usage and therefore improve service and results for students.

— Ann Mathieson, Marin Promise Partnership

COVID-19 testing in the vineyards: OLE Health is working hard to keep our Napa Valley farmworkers safe. In July, OLE Health partnered with the Napa County Public Health Department to test almost 100 farmworkers for COVID-19. Este Julio, OLE Health se asoció con el Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Napa para evaluar a casi 100 trabajadores agrícolas para detectar COVID-19. OLE Health patients can call 707-254-1770 to schedule a COVID-19 test at OLE. Los pacientes de OLE Health pueden llamar al 707-254-1770 para programar una prueba COVID-19 en OLE. https://www.facebook.com/198464650219250/videos/1671458143021579/

— Jennifer Churchill, Director of Marketing & Communications, OLE Health

The new engagement stories we have created to help our audiences and community stay connected with us are found in the News & Stories section of our website and via social media. An ongoing series of stories and videos created in the past several months are continuing to keep us close to the relationships that are vital for our cultural art form. Specifically, our “Home Is Where the Art Is” series shares music and stories by musicians, staff and young artists from their homes. The gateways to our stories are found here: https://madisonsymphony.org/, https://madisonsymphony.org/news-stories/, https://madisonsymphony.org/about/videos/, https://madisonsymphony.org/homewithartists.

— Peter Rodgers, Director of Marketing, Madison Symphony Orchestra