At the Cocoon House Butterfly Celebration in 2018, Jennifer McCabe (left) wipes a tear as her daughters Vanessa Bassi and Jayla Bassi speak to the crowd. The event has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Dan Bates/ The Herald)

At the Cocoon House Butterfly Celebration in 2018, Jennifer McCabe (left) wipes a tear as her daughters Vanessa Bassi and Jayla Bassi speak to the crowd. The event has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Dan Bates/ The Herald)

‘Huge, pressing need’ as nonprofits cancel fundraising events

Cocoon House, Domestic Violence Services, YMCA, YWCA and other agencies hurt by coronavirus crisis.

A few years back, Trudi Inslee came to Everett and told supporters of Cocoon House that “Without you, these things don’t happen.”

The wife of Gov. Jay Inslee spoke at the 2015 Cocoon House Butterfly Celebration. It’s a festive rite of passage for teens and young adults helped by Cocoon House. The agency provides shelter, street outreach and more for homeless and at-risk youth. Its Butterfly luncheon is a major fundraiser attended by hundreds of people.

This spring, the Butterfly Celebration won’t happen — and sadly that goes, too, for many nonprofits’ major fundraisers.

Due to “uncertainty surrounding COVID-19” and heeding the governor’s ban on gatherings of 250 people or more, Cocoon House announced on its website that the event has been canceled. It had been scheduled for March 26 at Angel of the Winds Arena.

Joseph Alonzo, Cocoon House CEO, said the agency had hoped to bring in some $90,000 from the event, its second largest annual fundraiser. Just one example of what’s paid for by fundraising is the Cocoon House music program, he said.

“This is a resilient community, and we’ll find ways to make this up,” said Alonzo. Nevertheless, he expects a loss of revenue due to stock market fears and other economic woes related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Butterfly Celebration is traditionally a sort of graduation and awards event. Alonzo said Cocoon House “already did something in-house” for young people being recognized.

Karri Matau, CEO of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County, said Thursday she’s seeing “a huge, pressing need” among nonprofits being forced to cancel events. Also, she said, agencies normally supported by volunteers are faced with far fewer helping hands.

The foundation supports charitable giving and makes grants to area nonprofits.

Housing Hope, Matau said, canceled this week’s Community of Hope Dinner, which was to help families in east Snohomish County.

Sherwood Community Services, a Lake Stevens-based nonprofit helping people with disabilities, canceled a Wine and Dine fundraiser scheduled for March 20, Matau said. The Stanwood Senior Center won’t hold its March 21 Irish Dinner, a fundraiser for its operations, she said.

The Chocolate and Wine Lovers’ Gala, an annual fundraiser for Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, was to have been April 3 at Tulalip Resort Casino. Vicci Hilty, the nonprofit’s executive director, said it’s been postponed.

“We’re sticking with June 5, that’s our hope,” Hilty said of the event where the agency hoped to net about $200,000. “That’s our biggest event, and we need those funds,” said Debra Bordsen, deputy director of development for Domestic Violence Services. “We want everyone to be safe,” Hilty said. “We have to do what’s right.”

Grants largely pay for direct services to clients, they said, but donations fund operating expenses. “We’ve got to keep the lights on,” Hilty said of the agency that runs a shelter and other programs for domestic violence survivors.

The YMCA of Snohomish County’s Rise & Shine Inspirational Prayer Breakfast, a Good Friday tradition, has also been canceled. Not a fundraiser, it was scheduled for April 10. The breakfast was to have featured Jonathan Rainey, who’s been a chaplain with the Seattle Seahawks and UW Husky football teams.

Jennifer Willows, the local Y’s senior vice president and chief development officer, said the nonprofit has canceled its March 26 Campaign Victory Celebration. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County, part of the Y, postponed its May 9 auction until Sept. 12 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The Y’s Mill Creek branch has also put off an event until September, Willows said.

The YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish was to have hosted Dominique Dawes, a retired Olympic gymnast, at its Everett Inspire Luncheon on April 16. That’s been canceled too. Maria Chavez Wilcox, CEO of the region’s YWCA, said it will be the first time in 22 years the agency won’t have an Everett fundraiser. “We value the safety and health of our clients, staff and donors, and appreciate the ongoing support,” she said.

Matau said the Everett Museum of History is also cancelling a fundraising dinner in May.

The Community Foundation is announcing a philanthropic fund Friday to help with myriad needs related to the outbreak, Matau said.

On Thursday, a Stanwood-Camano Disaster Relief Fund was created to provide assistance to charitable groups that provide essential services. Through the Floyd and Delores Jones Endowment, the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation will match up to $25,000 in recurring donations to the new fund.

Coronavirus is a health risk for everyone. It also adds up to tougher times for our community’s most vulnerable.

“We’re going to be asking our donors to consider the organizations they support regularly. Give to them now, give to them again, and give to them more,” Matau said. “It’s devastating. Let’s double our giving in 2020.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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