COVID-19 Response Update

Updated 5/19/20

WISCORPS ORGANIZATIONAL UPDATE

Hello, WisCorps friends, partners, and stakeholders,

Our thoughts are with all of you whose lives are being impacted by this crisis, especially those who may have lost family members or friends. We want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we navigate this crisis.

For the past three weeks, we’ve been working on protocols that will allow us to run our crews as safely as possible this summer. We’ve also borrowed and modified a decision-making matrix from the Northwest Youth Corps with six items to consider in the decision whether or not to operate this summer. At this point, all six of these items are either currently met, very close to being met, or forecast to be met by May 26th.  After much thought and consideration, Matt has decided to run our crews this summer. This decision is also supported by our Board of Directors who held a special meeting this week to discuss our COVID-19 procedures, the preparation work of the staff, and address questions and concerns about WisCorps operating in a COVID-19 environment.

While we are aware of the WI Supreme Court decision this week striking down Gov. Evers’ Safer at home order, we are following the direction of local leadership, and HQ will remain closed until Tuesday, May 26th. In all of our planning and work, WisCorps continues to follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as from the City of La Crosse, and the State of Wisconsin, and make changes as needed. This will continue as we progress towards and through the summer carrying out projects.

Organizational Updates:

  1. Remote Work: All WisCorps staff continue to telecommute. Please do not hesitate to contact our staff via phone, 608-782-2494, and leave a message or via email. Staff are monitoring calls regularly and are responding to emails. We will respond to your inquiries as quickly as we can. For more information, please contact:

Matt Brantner, Executive Director, matt.brantner@wiscorps.org

Deb Ward, Director of Development, deb.ward@wiscorps.org

Steph Hanna, Environmental Education Manager, steph.hanna@wiscorps.org

Andrea Frisch, Conservation Program Manager, andrea.frisch@wiscorps.org

Chad DuChateau, Operations Manager, chad.duchateau@wiscorps.org

Matt Gaworski, AmeriCorps Program Manager, matt.gaworski@wiscorps.org

Tammy Schmitz, Myrick Park Center General Manager, tammy.schmitz@wiscorps.org

Emily Post, Administrative Coordinator, emily.post@wiscorps.org

  • Disaster Response Crew: Our Disaster Response Crew did a phenomenal job during the last four weeks. They assisted the following organizations in the La Crosse community:  City of La Crosse Parks, Onalaska Regional Food Basket, Coulee Region RSVP, and Hunger Task Force. The crew delivered 600 pounds of groceries to vulnerable individuals who could not leave their homes, provided 300 meals, collected 273 pounds of flood debris, and wrote 84 letters to seniors in four local health care centers letting them know that they were not forgotten during this difficult time. Again, we want to thank the La Crosse Community Foundation and Serve Wisconsin for their financial assistance which enabled us to deploy this crew.
  • AmeriCorps: Matt Gaworski, AmeriCorps Program Manager, has been working to adjust to our new timeline for crew start-up and how we will meet performance goals while also enrolling members for the summer months. We recently received approval from Serve Wisconsin to enroll our crew members in the AmeriCorps program this summer.
  • Events at Myrick Park Center:  The facility will be closed through May 25 and we currently anticipate a phased reopening beginning on May 26, 2020. We have been working with reservations and groups impacted by the closure of our building as well as those beyond that time. We have new resources available to better assist large events impacted by COVID-19 and new reservation packages to accommodate the influx of large bookings in 2021 (due to 2020 reschedules). For full details on Myrick Park Center updates due to COVID-19 and COVID-19 FAQ’s about Reservations, visit myrickparkcenter.org. Chad DuChateau, our Operations Manager, and David Westart (what’s his title??) are working hard to ensure our Summer Crews have the necessary equipment and protocols to stay safe during their term. They secured lightweight, portable sinks that will ensure crews have access to proper handwashing practices while working a day in the field. They are also cleaning and disinfecting all of the tools that will be needed for each crew.
  • EE Program Update:  Our Environmental Education staff are developing activities and lesson plans with nature-related activities that parents can use with their children while learning at home. Check our Facebook page and look up the Environmental Education at WisCorps Facebook Group for engaging Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math nature activities, and lessons. Contact Steph at steph.hanna@wiscorps.org for even more resources and ideas.
  • Conservation Projects:  Andrea Frisch, our Conservation Program Manager, is finalizing protocol and sent it for external review by the La Crosse County Health Department and the UW Extension this week. She is busy preparing for the summer session which is planned to commence with the start of Crew Leader training on May 26th. Procedures and precautions are in place to keep future WisCorps crew leaders and staff healthy throughout the 3-week process. Additionally, the conservation summer season has been modified to include one 8-week summer session instead of two 4-week sessions, no Isle Royale Crew, and no public crew kick-off ceremony.
  • Development:  We must consider the financial implications of the coronavirus and the potentially damaging impact on WisCorps. To date, we estimate that we have lost more than $65,000 in revenue. This lost revenue comes from the closure of Myrick Park Center, the cancellation of all events in the building since the middle of March, and the closure of schools which resulted in the cancellation of our Environmental education programs for the remainder of this school year. We project losses will continue into this summer as people are not booking the MPC for events in June, July, and August. WisCorps staff are taking several steps to try to mitigate these losses including (1) receiving a PPP loan to cover payroll costs into June; (2) running summer crews will help generate some revenue; and (3) considering adding a Fall crew. We hope that you will consider helping us through this incredibly difficult period by making a gift to WisCorps today. You can do so by clicking on the donate buttons or by visiting our website, www.wiscorps.org, and going to the Donate tab. We deeply appreciate you considering making a gift.

Please continue to check social media, your email, and our website for updated information. In the meantime, we hope that you will…BE WELL…STAY SAFE…STAY IN TOUCH.

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