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September 2021



As positive cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Michigan, which according to the state of Michigan has a seven-day moving average for daily cases of 1,233 as of this writing, and as the positivity rate continues to rise, the historic Community House and its Foundation have made the difficult but prudent decision to postpone its signature friend and fundraising celebration – The Bates Street Society Dinner and Awards Ceremony – from September 11, 2021 to April 30, 2022.

Based upon what we know now, and in close consultation with health experts, epidemiologists and the Oakland County Health Department, we believe it is prudent and responsible to put the health, safety and welfare of others, especially our seniors and children, above all else.

We recognize that many of our clients, supporters and nonprofit/civic groups are disappointed that The Community House has remained partially closed. So are we. We have valiantly battled forced closures, mass layoffs, two pandemics, loss of family members, illnesses, an unstable economy, fear amongst our loyal donors, staff, clients and supporters – yet we continue to rise to the occasion. We remain hopeful, optimistic and courageous.

Some have suggested that The Community House is no longer “open to all” based upon shortage of staff and our ability to serve or our need to increase our prices – unavoidable challenges directly related to COVID – including skyrocketing labor costs, food costs, beverage costs, utility costs, supply costs, fuel costs (and on and on), employee burn out, not to mention two fiscal years of over 50 percent revenue losses. Unimaginable.

Let us be reminded that The Community House, now in its 98th year, is a 100 percent self-supporting, self-funded organization which relies solely on the kindness and generosity of others. Each year, The Community House strives to break even. We are a nonprofit. We give back all that we receive, after expenses. We are not in the business of making a profit.

Our mission is to serve. Nothing less, nothing more. Short of an unexpected lifeline, we will continue to struggle. Unlike so many historical institutions, universities, medical centers, noble causes – many donors do not think of The Community House as a place to make large transformational gifts to. But, we pray that they take a second look – we’re worth it. Community Houses across our nation are rare cultural, educational and philanthropic gems. They fill a need; they feel a gap that so many depend upon. Pre-COVID, over 200,000 people entered through our doors annually. After nearly a century of service, we must be doing something right.

On top of all of the challenges we have faced over the last 18 months, postponing our largest, most significant fundraising event, The Bates Street Society Dinner, will hurt. But, not as much as it would be to place the health, safety and welfare of those that are entrusted to us in jeopardy. Please stay safe and be well.

Each year we gather to recognize, honor, and induct these extraordinary donors and volunteers in a public way at the Bates Street Society Dinner.

The best way for our friends and supporters to show their gratitude to our loyal sponsors would be to remember them when you might be in need of their kinds of products or services. It truly does take a village.

William D. Seklar is President & CEO of The Community House and The Community House Foundation in Birmingham.


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