Girls Inc. of Carpinteria’s annual fundraising auction, dinner, and dance — “An Evening in Bloom” — has been driven to a virtual format due to COVID-19.
The nonprofit has replaced its one day of fundraising with an entire month, culminating with a virtual wrap party on Sept. 25 in tribute of the late Girls Inc. of Carpinteria board member Mary Crowley.
When it became clear that “An Evening in Bloom” couldn’t go forward the same as usual, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria started thinking of ways to make its digital alternative fun and engaging to the community.
According to Executive Director Jamie Collins, this ultimately materialized as the “Challenge for Change,” an online fundraising competition between teams of people involved with Girls Inc. of Carpinteria.
The online fundraiser started on Aug. 24 and will conclude on Sept. 25, throughout which teams can win prizes by meeting certain benchmarks like $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000. There will also be a special prize for the team that raises the most money.
According to Ms. Collins, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria wants each team to raise $25,000, and the fundraiser as a whole to raise $250,000. This goal is $100,000 higher than the one the nonprofit normally sets, to cover its costs from switching Girls Inc. programming from in-person to digital.
Prior to COVID-19, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria held programs after school and during school breaks aimed toward a mission of “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” These programs include early literacy and STEM education.
Once the pandemic hit, Ms. Collins and her colleagues saw a need for increased childcare services in Carpinteria. Since one of the two childcare centers in town closed when lockdowns went into effect, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria decided to not just serve its girls in the afternoon, but in the morning as well.
Under the current arrangement, in the morning Girls Inc. of Carpinteria provides its girls with distance learning support, which is done in coordination with the girls’ schools and teachers as much as possible. This combined with their regular afternoon enrichment program makes Girls Inc. of Carpinteria a full day program, necessitating a higher than usual fundraising goal.
The month-long “Challenge for Change” will conclude with an online wrap party on Sept. 25, this year’s “An Evening in Bloom,” which will be in honor of Ms. Crowley, who died in January after a long battle with cancer.
She never had the opportunity to work with Ms. Crowley on the Girls Inc. of Carpinteria board, but Ms. Collins told the News-Press that she knew the late board member her entire life, having grown up just down the street from her.
She said of Ms. Crowley, “She was just one of those women who had an unbending passion for creating opportunities for all girls in Carpinteria.”
In a news release, she also said Ms. Crowley was “an exceptional example” of the three qualities Girls Inc. of Carpinteria tries to cultivate in its girls, “strong, smart, and bold.”
Though “An Evening in Bloom” has changed in many ways from how it was originally intended, its honoring of Ms. Crowley isn’t one of them.
“We knew right away that we were going to honor her,” Ms. Collins said. “Even prior to COVID, we knew we were going to be honoring her at this event.”