Fundraising in a pandemic: Online auction to benefit Work Opportunities

Richard Suico and Armando Ortiz

On March 12, 2020, our committee — over a dozen committed community members — sat at Brigid’s Bottle Shop in Edmonds, planning the last bits for our first Run to Work fundraiser. The event was designed to raise money for Work Opportunities, a Lynnwood-based organization that provides essential supported employment services to nearly 450 people with disabilities in Snohomish, King and Whatcom Counties.

Edmonds resident Armando Ortiz had qualified for the Boston Marathon and was going to run on behalf of Work Opportunities. The synergy between Armando’s running exploits and Work Opportunities’ mission had the entire committee excited to see how much we could raise through the event. Many local businesses and residents had donated items for our silent auction and raffle. Jack Crawford, owner of Brigid’s, was providing the venue and invaluable marketing assistance.  Edmonds resident Susan Powell, co-chair of the event, had worked tirelessly to make sure attendance was as high as our enthusiasm.

And the next day, everything changed.

It is impossible to grasp all the tragedy endured during this global fight with COVID-19. Yet another toll taken during the pandemic is the damage to not-for-profit organizations that depend on fundraisers to generate revenue (to simply pay the bills). One such organization is Work Opportunities.

“When the stay-at-home order went into effect in March 2020, 192 clients were sent home from their jobs, leaving only eight clients categorized as ‘essential’ and still employed,” said Carrie Moorehouse, executive director of Work Opportunities. “And the revenue from our fundraising gala auction, the event that supports our mission, saw a dramatic 50% reduction.”

This year, the committee gathered again and our sponsors also stepped up, but alas, when the indoor mask mandate went back into effect, we made the difficult decision to again cancel the in-person gathering.

The creative solution that we have employed is to have an online auction, starting immediately, including incredible Mariners tickets (updated nearly daily) on our website: runtowork2021.com. The auction will culminate on the night of Oct. 2, which was the night we were set to host the live event. Thanks to a devoted committee and local businesses like Gallaghers’ Where U Brew, Ortiz Landscaping and Brigid’s, we should be able to generate much-needed funds. And Armando and fellow committee member Richard Suico have qualified for the 2022 Boston Marathon (Richard qualified for this year’s marathon, too!).

Thus, we look forward to, potentially, a live event next year.

— By Steve Monroe, on behalf of Work Opportunities

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