By David Sutta

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Since the coronavirus pandemic began, many of South Florida’s charities have stepped up.

They have supported mass food distributions, helped children connect to school and helped families through tough times.

That said, tough times could be coming for our nonprofits.

Since mid-march, the classroom at Touching Miami with Love has sat empty, but the classes never stopped.

Like many charities in South Florida, the organization just adapted to the needs.

Jason Pittman says he’s never seen the need for help this bad – worse than 9/11 or the Great Recession.

“The number of folks that are just surviving. Miami is already a tough place,” he said.

The food deliveries have been non-stop.

In Homestead, they turned their parking lot into a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect those without internet access.

He’s now trying to figure out how to open Summer camp with CDC guidelines, protective gear and cleaning supplied

“We have to deal with significant costs, 20-30%, while at the same time anywhere reducing our enrollment, 20-40%,” he said.

Pre-pandemic, Miami’s Overtown Youth Center was working in schools.

Today, their primary operation is delivering 2,000 meals to families a week.

Meanwhile, donors are disappearing.

“It has forced us to make difficult decisions as it relates to staffing, as it relates to the number of the services we can provide,” said Overtown Youth Center CEO Tina Brown.

Organizations on the front lines, like those food distributions, are getting funds.

But the arts and child care programs, all of them have been closed and are being hit hard.

“They didn’t have cash on hand to start buying laptops or supplies for their employees to go remote,” explained Lindsey Linzer, senior director of the Miami Foundation. “But these are some of the most resilient organizations.”

The Miami Foundation, a supporter of many South Florida’s non-profits, sees trouble on the horizon.

Massive unemployment and school reopenings in limbo could put needs at an all-time high, while budgets sink to all-time lows.

“We are going to see staffing cuts in some organizations and we also anticipate that some of the smaller organizations are going to have to close their doors or merge with potentially other organizations,” Linzer said.

Linzer by no means suggests South Florida’s charities are giving up. If anything, they are gearing up to fight for the communities they serve.

“The one thing that we are certain about is that we will continue to meet the needs of our children and families. We don’t where. We don’t know how. But we are going to make the necessary adjustments,” Linzer said.

The Miami Foundation believes it could take charities years to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.

For charities to survive, they will likely have to scale back the amount of people they serve and prioritize who they help.

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