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Nonprofits Deploying Technology to Respond to COVID-19 Needs

News from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation

Two nonprofits who are using technology to respond to the coronavirus pandemic are among the first to receive grants from the Community Foundation’s new COVID-19 Response Grant program.

  • The Helpline Center has received a COVID-19 Response Grant to support its proposal to deploy technology as a way to improve safety and add efficiency to the twice-weekly centralized food distributions held at the fairgrounds for individuals and families impacted by the outbreak.

    Alex Pool, integration specialist at the Helpline Center, sourced an application called Airtable which not only allows individuals and families needing food assistance to easily register for a food pick-up, it also provides real-time data to the nonprofit partners who are supplying food.

    “Food distributions are held each Tuesday and Thursday. After each distribution, the data allows our partners to see the overall need. This helps us anticipate needs for next distribution day,” said Janet Kittams, chief executive officer of the Helpline Center.

    As of Friday, April 17, Pool said the centralized food distribution had served 1,800 households, or 5,000 individuals — including parents and children.

    Initially, Kittams said, partners involved in the centralized food distribution had a hard time predicting the actual need in the community. This new technology is helping with that.

    “We knew the number of calls for food assistance had skyrocketed,” she said. “We’d made so many referrals to partners in the community. This made so much sense for us to do this because the data helps us plan for the next distribution day.

    “The data also shares with the overall need for food and resources in our community. I think people are still learning the overall need. This gives a window to that – it show how COVID-19 is impacting households throughout our community.”

    Kittams said technology is key to enabling nonprofits to help more people in more effective ways.

    “That’s so critical during a time like this because the need is just enormous,” she said. “The Helpline Center has always been on the forefront of using technology to help people. This is another example of how we’ve researched and found tools to make things easier for the clients and the agencies involved.”
  • DakotAbilities has received a COVID-19 response grant to support a proposal to utilize iPads to help its residential clients remain connected with family members, service coordinators, direct support professionals and nurses.

    “The COVID-19 outbreak is impacting everyone in our community and the people of DakotAbilities are no exception,” said Nathan Stallinga, director of development for DakotAbilities. “Greater access to the community in any form leads to greater inclusion. Greater inclusion creates a better community.”

    DakotAbilities serves 135 adults with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 90 who come from 34 counties throughout South Dakota. The nonprofit develops assistive and adaptive devices unique to each person and provides services including residential options, work and Meaningful Day activities, nursing care, dietary and nutrition care, physical and occupational therapy and communication resources. DakotAbilities also provides 24-hour nursing and health care.

The COVID-19 Response Grant program is designed to provide critical financial relief to local nonprofits who, because of the coronavirus outbreak, have seen extraordinary increases, or changes in, demand for services and/or need emergency operating support.

In addition to the Helpline Center and DakotAbilities, other nonprofits receiving support from the Foundation’s first round of COVID-19 Response Grants include The Banquet, Teddy Bear Den, Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, Bhutanese Nepalese Youth of Sioux Falls, The Compass Center, Feeding South Dakota, Glory House, The Multi-Cultural Center of Sioux Falls and Love INC of Greater Canton.

“As we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic together, we know our local nonprofits are working harder now than ever before,” said Patrick Gale, the Foundation’s vice president for Community Investment. “The coronavirus has forced everyone to create new ways to carry out their missions. To say it’s challenging is an understatement.

“Thankfully, because of so many across our area who have supported our Community Fund with unrestricted gifts, we are able to flexibly respond to the unexpected and unprecedented needs facing our nonprofit partners during this time.”