On behalf of the historic Community House (TCH) and The Community House Foundation (TCHF), we hope we find you safe and well. We miss seeing you. I miss seeing you. While our building and property remains partially closed, The Community House and The Community House Foundation remains open; virtually and remotely.
Though some very tough and unprecedented decisions were made due to the COVID-19 crisis, the virus will not stop our nearly century-old commitment to you, your family, friends and neighbors to maintain this extraordinary “home to those seeking continuity between personal, professional, philanthropic and recreational pursuits.”
Those who depend upon us most cannot wait for “normalcy” to arrive. Us, too. We will not rest while our constituents: our cherished families, class takers, non-profit groups and supporters await our vital and essential programs and services to return. The demands for our services have never been greater.
On our journey back, determinedly, we have been able to pivot to virtual summer programs, classes and remote summer camps. We continue to give virtual tours and are accepting bookings for weddings, showers, conferences, business meetings, and other milestone events. Our Early Childhood, Infant & Toddler Centers has started to accept new students for the late summer/fall 2020 semesters. While mailed out hard copy program/class catalogs have been temporarily discontinued, all these initiatives and more – can be found on our website at communityhouse.com or by calling 248.644.5832.
The Community House Family has responded heroically. Everyone has had truly difficult decisions to make. That we have done so together will contribute directly to the health, safety and lives of members of our community and countless others. We will continue to do this guided by the best understanding and evidence for what will protect and save lives.
Of one thing I am certain, it will be a gradual process that will take time and patience, and it will likely differ from the old normal, our old life, pre-COVID-19. The world will look different coming out of this crisis. Many of those changes will be enduring. The exact trajectory of our recovery is highly uncertain and dependent upon many factors outside of our control such as government mandates, the risk of a second or third wave of infections, and the overall economic backdrop.
According to the CDC and our nation’s top health officials, the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and what lies beyond summer is a cause for concern. We are being advised to plan for the possibility that a second coronavirus outbreak could occur in the fall, especially if there isn’t a vaccine by then. Worse, we are told that there’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will be even more difficult than the one we just went through. Our obligation is quite simply to do the right thing. Nothing is more important to us than safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors, especially the most vulnerable, our children and seniors.
Due to the continued uncertainty that remains today, including ever-evolving social distancing rules, new sanitation and cleaning standards, fear of a second wave of infections, loss of staff due to layoffs coupled with the unprecedented loss of funding, revenue, investments, donations and other forms of support – The Community House will not be ready to host regular onsite/in-house classes, programs, events/fundraisers, large gatherings or our non-profit or supported groups for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year. It is certainly our hope and desire to recover and find ourselves in a different, much improved, fully-staffed, financially stable “new” normalcy in January 2021. Financially, it remains a most difficult and uncharted path. Outside philanthropic support is key.
On a more positive note, given that Governor Whitmer and the state of Michigan finally lifted the restrictions on re-opening Early Childhood Centers across the state – The Community House re-opened its Early Childhood, Infant and Toddler Centers to working families on Monday, June 15.
We will come out of this, but we must come out of this smarter. Best sciences, financial stability and policies will dictate how and when we return to normal.
William D. Seklar is President & CEO of The Community House and The Community House Foundation in Birmingham.