MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The pandemic has come down hard on nonprofits. And for one South Florida organization, canceled fundraisers and short falls in corporate sponsorships have severely impacted the services it provides to those with developmental disabilities.
United Community Options of South Florida has been serving those with special needs for over 70 years.READ MORE: 2 Of South Florida’s Top Cops React To Miami-Dade Mayor’s White House Visit For Gun Violence Discussion
Early on, the nonprofit specifically helped those with cerebral palsy, operating under the name United Cerebral Palsy.
But the name change came with a broader mission.
“We serve so many folks with or without cerebral palsy. We serve folks with autism, down syndrome, a variety of developmental disabilities,” explained Executive Director Pat Murphy. “We have changed our name to be all inclusive.”
The local organization was founded in 1947 by a group of Miami parents that wanted to provide therapeutic and vocational service. They set out to raise funds, and have ever since. But now those traditional efforts have been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have four major events that support our programs. Two are food events, one is a golf event and one is a volley ball event. They were all canceled,” Murphy explained. “Some programs we had to close because of the pandemic challenges. We had to close a few programs.”
Funding issues have been common to a number of nonprofits. Corporate partnerships, always reliable in the past, have dwindled during the COVID crisis.READ MORE: Miami Dolphins Team Up With Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Broward For Pride Month Initiative
“A lot of our partners had challenges themselves,” Murphy said. “So corporate funders and corporate sponsors were not able to support our program.”
The loss of corporate contribution revenue had a domino effect, because UCO could not come up with enough money to secure matching funds from corporate or governmental sources.
Meanwhile, work with those in need carried on as best possible, meeting the challenges of social distancing. UCO is looking forward to funding events hopefully resuming later this summer and receiving help from the feds.
“In the most recent American Rescue Act, we lobbied and changed the rules. In the last one, we were able to get support which is helpful,” Murphy said.
Not out of the woods yet, here’s a reminder of what UCO in the tri-county area provides clients:
“Sometimes, people with developmental disabilities just need a chance, need support, a little encouragement and a little love,” Murphy said, “and when they are seen ‘as different,’ you don’t always get that.”MORE NEWS: Miami Police Department Fires Deputy Chief Ronald Papier, Commander Nerly Papier
If you want more information on United Community Options and their programs, click here.