The pandemic placed tremendous strain on nonprofits and other community organizations’ employees who stretched at great personal expense to keep our community strong. At the end of 2021, a collaborative of philanthropic institutions joined together to invest back in this essential group of workers through mini-grants focused on nearly 300 Miami-Dade organizations’ team members’ wellness and sustainability. These community-based organizations were chosen to receive a portion of the $525,000 pooled for this “Help the Helpers” collective initiative.
Together with this collaborative of other South Florida foundations and funders, we pooled this half-million-dollar fund to enable community-based organizations to financially reward front-line employees for providing critical services during the pandemic.
This Miami-Dade Initiative was modeled on a successful Help the Helpers 2021 pilot led by the United Way of Palm Beach County, which pooled $433,000 for mini grants distributed to Palm Beach organizations. A similar effort was also completed in Broward County in 2021, where $655,000 was disbursed to over 100 agencies, supporting 7,500 staff.
Grants for the Miami-Dade initiative were distributed to local organizations, ranging from $300 to $6,100 and were received in full by January 2022. The hope was that this grant would further ongoing stress reduction efforts at community organizations and encourage their creation if they didn’t already exist.
“This initiative was so kind. It came at the end of a very difficult year. It was unexpected and wonderful. Thank you for allowing us to show our staff how important they are to us and the work that we do.”
“Fanm Saj received $304.90 to reward us and our staff for the work the pandemic and throughout each year. We used the funds to have an end of the year brunch with our staff and an end of the year dinner for our staff. Four of our team members went to Sunday Brunch at the Red Rooster restaurant in Overtown. This was the first time that we went to brunch together. It gave us an opportunity to celebrate each other, enjoy good live music, strengthen our team relationships and of course eat good food! Our team has held a lot this year, holding stories, practicing resilience and healing within our communities and we got an opportunity to bring in some joy through food, music and dance!”
“Grant funds were used to purchase $60 gift cards for Walmart for each of our 51 employees across five sites in Miami Dade. We announced the grant and distributed the gift cards during work hours. The gift cards were received with surprise, excitement and deep gratitude. (…) $60 is a day’s worth of work for most of our employees so it was definitely impactful.”
“The Help the Helpers Miami-Dade grant was used to purchase Visa gift cards valued at $71 for the 45 administrative and frontline employees of The Salvation Army Miami Area Command. Staff members were delighted and surprised to receive a gift card to treat themselves in appreciation of their continued dedication to Salvation Army’s mission and extraordinary work through the pandemic. (…) They are the ones that put themselves at most risk. It’s nice to be recognized for the work they’ve done. (…) The Salvation Army Miami Area Command is deeply grateful for this affirmation of staff members’ unsung work. It serves as added encouragement to work harder to grow programs, expand outreach and serve more people in need across Miami-Dade County in 2022.”
“This unexpected gift was a blessing to us! We are a very small team at Casa Valentina, and at the height of the pandemic, each staff member worked well above and beyond. This generosity from this collaboration came at a perfect time. (…) If possible, this type of gift each year would be uplifting to all that receive it. It speaks to the confidence you all have in the work we all do.”
“The funds were used to purchase “You’re Awesome” Visa gift cards for the employees. These were given out at a celebratory meeting featuring everyone’s favorite snacks! We are a small staff, and everyone appreciated the recognition of a job well done! It was a good time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the past year and look forward to new opportunities to serve our community. This was an awesome initiative and a good reminder of the importance of employee recognition.”
“There’s nothing like feeling APPRECIATED!! Thank you for this opportunity. It has been a very long and stressful time dealing with the pandemic and our new ways of living through COVID 19. This really gave me and my staff time to get out, bond, laugh and enjoy ourselves again. It was greatly appreciated and very well needed. Thank you and everyone involved, so very much.”
“This recognition action is critical, particularly during this continued challenging time. This is a wonderful initiative to continue and show staff that they are appreciated and valued – this is especially important for non-profits agencies in order to retain quality talent and treasured staff members. We are humbled to have been included in this initiative and hope it continues.”