ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Public Health reports women across all racial groups were diagnosed with the coronavirus in greater numbers than men.
But you don’t have to get sick to feel the effects of COVID-19. Just ask the staff at North Fulton Community Charities.
This week marks a big comeback for NFCC. The local nonprofit closed its thrift store to the public in mid-March following the threat of the coronavirus. About 300 volunteers had to be sent home.
“Fifteen employees were doing the work of 300 people,” said Darlene Turk, director of Volunteers Services.
Now, with their masks on and repairs done, the community lifeline is reopening to help those in need – providing food, clothing, home goods, education and financial assistance.
The coronavirus recession has hit families with food and financial insecurity. Some are relying on charities like NFCC and The Drake House for the first time. But a closer look at the data shows another clear divide between women and men.
Women hit the hardest
Women also suffered the brunt of job losses the hardest so far this year. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women dominate in the service sector — the industries that laid off the most employees. Those jobs include hair stylists, manicurists, house cleaners, childcare workers, waitresses and hotel clerks.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, women have disproportionately suffered pandemic-related job losses. Since February 2020, women have lost nearly 7 million net jobs, accounting for 53.6 percent of overall net job loss since the start of the crisis. Those jobs numbers show 1 in 7 Black women and Latinas remain unemployed, with their unemployment levels 3 times higher than their pre-pandemic rate. The statistics are worse for younger women, with 19.4 percent unemployed, and for those with a disability, 17.1 percent unemployed.
“In North Fulton, a person most likely to be homeless or in poverty is a woman with about two children, and those children are not in school,” said Holly York, executive director of North Fulton Community Charities.
Kali Boatright, president & CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, said nonprofits are filling the food, shelter and financial gap for women and families in the region.
“They’re indispensable,” Boatright said. “Without those nonprofits in our community, to support those who need them the most, we would be in real trouble.”
That much needed helping hand is coming from women to women.
“Women do volunteer at higher rates than men,” said York, who has worked with volunteers since 1983. “They volunteer because they want to have a community. They want to meet other women. They’re invited by other women into the volunteer opportunity.”
Charities are also affected
COVID has also posed a threat to nonprofit agencies, York said. COVID-19 safety protocols have made it a challenge to connect volunteers to the right opportunities, she said.
Leaders at The Drake House , which transitions single mothers out of homelessness, say COVID has interrupted their efforts.
“The biggest shift for us was fulfilling our mission during the shutdown, and keeping our families safe,” said Nesha Mason, executive director of The Drake House. “Our mothers felt a great desire to be able to keep their children safe. So, we needed to give them the assurance that their safety was our priority.”
Mason said some of the women they council lost their jobs during the recession, but The Drake House provided a career coach and an empowerment plan to get them back on their feet.
Despite the challenges and uncertainty about normalcy, there are some good signs for a business.
“I am optimistic,” Boatright said. “Rightfully, all of us should be able to crawl up into the fetal position. But nobody is doing that. Everyone is coming out swinging.”
The Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce is empowering women with their weekly Women INfluencing Business Leadership Series. Upcoming webinar topics include tips for homeschooling and time management, and creative marketing during a crisis.
You can learn more at the organization’s website: gnfcc.com
To find out volunteer opportunities, York suggests contacting a nonprofit that supports a cause you’re passionate about. If you need further assistance, visit VolunteerMatch, volunteermatch.org, to find your right opportunity. You can also visit the NFCC on Elkins Road in Roswell to drop off a donation.