How the SCARC Foundation Forged a Virtual Path: Achievements Amid a Pandemic

November 20, 2020

How the SCARC Foundation Forged a Virtual Path: Achievements Amid a Pandemic

The last several months have seen tremendous changes across SCARC’s family of organizations: our services and programs have morphed to protect both residents and employees while continuing to fulfill our mission—an incredible feat by our direct-service and support staff that deserves continued recognition. However, they aren’t the only SCARC staffers that have risen up to the challenges the pandemic has presented. The SCARC Foundation staff has also made awe-inspiring efforts to continue their work in order to ensure SCARC has the funds it needs to operate.

Led by Chris Hemmer, the development team at the SCARC Foundation has had to pivot from hosting large in-person events—the fundraising mainstay of most nonprofit organizations—to putting on virtual-only and smaller socially distanced events. The first event, the March Honors Dinner, was perhaps the biggest challenge of all, but the team made a seamless transition to the virtual environment.

As the months wore on, the team found new and ingenious ways of hosting several of our annual fundraisers in a virtual capacity. Incredibly, even as some in-person events, such as a sock hop and a baseball night, had to be canceled, Chris and his staff were nonetheless able to meet or exceed their fundraising goals for every event the Foundation held. They were even able to bring in enough to cover the losses from the canceled events.

An Online Honors Leadership Awards Celebration

Originally slated for March 19, just after the severity of the pandemic had swiftly come into focus, our annual Honors dinner was meant to be an in-person gala. Of course, the week leading up to the event saw rapid changes across the state, as schools were shuttered and thousands of employees were directed to work from home. The SCARC Foundation team worked quickly with Perona Farms, the venue for the event, to reschedule the dinner until June. Of course, we all believed that by then the pandemic would surely be in the rear-view mirror.

As we all know, however, COVID persisted, continuing to alter so many plans. The SCARC Foundation staff was already very familiar with Zoom, since the team had been providing virtual day-hab programming for a couple of hours every day to the individuals we serve. So, they used this knowledge to take the event virtual and planned a unique and exciting online experience for dinner attendees.

On June 17, Perona Farms prepared and carefully packed individual dinners into boxes and containers for attendees to pick up and enjoy at home the night of the event. Entertainment by Carter Calvert and the Roger Cohen Trio livened up the festivities, while Fox News personality Heather Childers played host. The planned auction and raffle were also held online. And of course, we celebrated the evening’s honorees: Raymond Nisivoccia of Nisivoccia LLP and Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative. The Foundation also presented long-time supporter Thomas Post with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The event was an overwhelming success, netting SCARC Foundation $100,000 in profit.

Walk-a-Thon Goes Virtual

The Foundation’s annual Gordon Shelton Memorial Walk-a-Thon also went online only this year. Typically held at the Sussex County Fairgrounds, the Foundation instead asked attendees to take to the streets and sidewalks surrounding their own homes instead. Participants raised money online just as they had in the past. Foundation staffers worked hard to ensure participants would enjoy a connected, convivial feel the day of the event, despite the absence of the usual in-person festivities. On May 17, walkers took off on their individual paths, walking for SCARC and the individuals we serve. Throughout the day, participants appreciated a sense of community and togetherness as they and the Foundation team shared video messages, pictures, and encouraging words via Facebook and Instagram. Another virtual success: the event netted $131,000!

Virtual Benefit Concert

In June, the Foundation dreamed up and played host to a virtual benefit concert. The live online event featured the legendary Sandra Joseph (Christine Daae) and Ron Bohmer (The Phantom) from The Phantom of the Opera on June 10th starting at 7:30PM. The concert included classic Broadway show tunes and time for audience Q&A. It was a huge hit with our supporters as well as the individuals we serve!

A Socially Distant Golf Outing

As COVID numbers (temporarily) dwindled into September, the Foundation opted to host our annual Pat Romano Sr. Memorial Golf Classic in person. Nonetheless, the format was different than in years past, with measures put into place to ensure attendees’ safety. We split our 350 golfers into two groups, with one group at Newton Country Club and the other at Farmstead Country Club. Golfers wore masks and stayed within their own foursomes as much as possible. They enjoyed an outdoor BBQ lunch in between rounds and a socially distant cocktail hour with light hors d’oeuvres to close out the day. The September 16 event was right on budget, achieving a net profit of $240,000!

Clay Shoot, COVID-Style

The Foundation was grateful for the opportunity to host a second in-person event while coronavirus numbers were down: our annual clay shoot. The sold-out event was held on September 29th at Hudson Farm. We had two sessions to allow for smaller groups, enabling us to ensure proper social distancing could be maintained. Of course, folks wore masks as well. Both groups enjoyed a challenging, exciting day of shooting and helped the Foundation raise over $10,000!

SCARC Foundation’s Annual Appeal

“We are so fortunate and blessed to have such a kind and wonderful group of devoted and generous supporters. Without you, we wouldn’t be here,” remarked Chris Hemmer. “Right now, we are holding our annual appeal, which is run traditionally run online, and continues into early next year. With COVID numbers rising again at alarming rates, the future is uncertain. We are facing many challenging months ahead, and we need your support more than ever.”

Please consider a gift to our annual appeal, a fundraiser chaired by the Sharick Family, to help us continue to provide critical support to the individuals we serve. If you have questions about our services or would like to participate in an upcoming fundraiser, please contact SCARC’s president and CEO, Dr. Richard Lecher, at 973.383.7442.