The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact the progress of our program, and program participants, in 2021. However, we remain steadfast in our adherence to all prevailing CDC and local-government COVID protocols, while striving to support participants to accomplish their goals. At the very outset of the pandemic, we took a stance that nothing was worth needlessly endangering the health of our participants, volunteers, or staff while seeking meaningful opportunity in the crisis. As a supporter of Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, you can be proud of this achievement in and of itself.
The introduction of effective vaccines in early 2021 made a tremendous difference not just in our participants’ level of comfort in visiting our locations and program staff’s ability to creatively engage them, but for our mission-critical volunteers as well. In the spring/summer of 2021, prior to the omicron wave, we were able to transition briefly back to in-person, indoor services. Although we were disappointed when forced to re-establish stricter COVID guidelines, we learned important lessons in how to effectively transition from one model to another and serve participants under any/all circumstances.
*Our Silver Spring Office has been conducting all casework virtually since the start of the pandemic.
For comparison purposes, we should remember that our program was only affected for nine and a half months in 2020, but in 2021 we felt the effects of the pandemic for a full calendar year, and that was on top of the adverse impacts we felt in 2020. That said, it’s not terribly surprising that we experienced a decline of roughly 30% in the number of unique people served in 2021 due to the pandemic from 942 individuals in 2020 down to 611 in 2021.
However, we also saw a positive trend regarding the number of new goals being set by our participants as they consider life after the pandemic. In 2020, our participants set 152 new goals; in 2021, even though caseworkers served fewer individuals, the total number of new goals set increased by 20% which is impressive.
This increase in participant goals speaks to something important about the Next Step Program that differentiates Samaritan Ministry from many other non-profits, and that is the concept of rigorous compassion. Through a trust-centered combination of mutual respect and accountability, we don’t just focus our mission on one topic (workforce development, housing, education, food security, etc.) because we know they all go hand in hand, and that success in one area can easily be undone by unaddressed issues in another area. Further, it stands to reason that throughout the pandemic, our participants, who are often in disadvantaged situations during the best of times, would face additional struggles.
Goal Success Rate
Types of Goals
In 2021, we gave out….
It is sometimes easy to lose sight of how important in-kind donations are to the success of our work with participants. Throughout the year, we were able to provide food, toiletries, and other essential personal items to our participants in need thanks to the generous in-kind donations we receive. However, we really get to see this generosity on display during the holidays. In 2021, we were able to distribute $12,975 in holiday gift cards that allowed 192 of our participants, plus 34 children to better celebrate the holidays!
We are fortunate at Samaritan Ministry to receive significant institutional support from an array of private foundations and government entities. We believe this is not just a reflection on the strength of our mission and work with participants, but also speaks to the quality of our organizational management and our level of transparency. Throughout the pandemic, these funders have maintained, and in some cases increased, their support to us. We have appreciated their ongoing partnership and support in these difficult times.
Individual giving increased substantially in 2021, as donors once again responded to the needs of the community and its more vulnerable members. Perhaps the greatest example of this was our 2021 Year-End Appeal, where we raised $155,589.70, with the average gift increasing from $529 in 2020 to a very generous $960!
Despite being forced by pandemic restrictions to deliver our two major donor events virtually – the Next Step Breakfast in March and the Annual Gala in November – both events were successful financially and allowed us to expand our audience. Going forward, we intend to include a virtual component with our in-person events so that we can attempt to sustain this momentum.