GIFTS AND LOANS HELP
Stacey Watson-Mesley, CEO of Big Brother/ Big Sister of St. Lucie,
Indian River and Okeechobee, said nonprofits are most prepared
for this disruption because they are always used to juggling.
“As soon as word of a pandemic shutdown emerged, we looked
at creative ways to expand our programs virtually and were able
to retain nearly 100 percent of our clients,” she said. “The children
were being supplied with computers by the school districts in
all three counties, so we could implement our virtual programs
“Our one-on-one relationships actually strengthened because
what used to be a 15- minute check-in turned into a two-hour
visit as children were starved for interaction. Our volunteers
stepped up to deliver books and puzzles to shut-in families so
there was always new material to discuss.”
It will be an uncomfortable year for the organization because
its major fundraiser, Taste of St. Lucie, was canceled, leaving it
with a deficit of several hundred thousand dollars.
A Paycheck Protection Program loan enabled it to retain the
staff with insurance benefits and a generous $50,000 gift came
through before the loan was secured. It also received an Impact
100 grant for its new mission project that pairs veteran mentors
“We serve 1,700 local children and they need us more than
ever,” Watson-Mesley said. “Our volunteers are dedicated and
won’t let a little pandemic get in their way.”
SUPPORT FOR HUMANE SOCIETY
The pandemic might have been a blessing in disguise for the
Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. During the two-month
Big Brother Michelet Boursiquot looks on with pride as Little Brother Caleb
Dumercy graduates from St. Lucie West Centennial High School.
Sue Rice and her pet therapy dog, Enzo, volunteering with Misty’s Pals, make a window appearance at Symphony of Stuart, an assisted-living center.