March 19, 2020
To our wonderful participants, supporters, friends, and community,
I am writing today to share some difficult news with you. All Out Adventures is going to suspend our operations until the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 virus has passed. I assure you we did not come to this decision lightly, but after much discussion and planning have come to believe that this is in the best interest of fulfilling our mission for the long term.
I know you will have many questions about what this means for our programs, for you, for our staff, and for our organization. I will do my best to answer the questions I anticipate below. Questions are in bold with detailed answers below each one.
What do you mean by “Suspend Operations?”
We will not schedule or plan for our community-based outdoor recreation programs until the state of emergency and restrictions that impact our programs related to the COVID-19 virus are lifted.
We will pare our expenses down to the minimum it will take to maintain our organization and be able to re-open when the public health emergency has passed. We will maintain our website, email server, office space, and equipment storage. I and Program Director Sue Tracy will reduce our hours to 10/week so that we can plan for the future, fulfill our administrative obligations to our program contracts, and work together with our funders and our community to plan for how we can continue to fulfill our mission once the health emergency has passed.
For how long?
We wish we knew. In a very hopeful way we are prepared to resume operations over the summer. At the same time, we are working to raise a minimum of 6 months of essential operating expenses to ensure that we will be sustainable through this public health emergency.
What does this mean for staff?
Our Program Leaders (Anna, Helen, Jackie, Patti, and on-call mechanic Russ) have been notified and we are supporting them in seeking unemployment benefits. We also will fully support them in seeking other employment. We adore them as much as you do, and we will do everything we can to support them through their next steps. They have given so much to this organization, and we are grateful beyond words for having had the opportunity to work with them.
What does this mean for participants?
This means that we will be thinking of you, supporting you from afar, and doing our very best creative work to be able to re-open for programming as soon as practical.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be calling and checking in with our program participants who we expect will be needing additional support doing this time. As our founding philosophy is to provide our programs for no or extremely low cost, our programs serve many individuals who are medically and financially vulnerable during this time. We are thinking of you, and we look forward to connecting.
Can’t AOA just wait and see instead of taking such a big step?
We sure wish we could, but every “wait and see” program on the calendar costs us critical organizational resources that we will need to be viable for the future. The majority of our funding comes from contracts that we fulfill by running our programs. When we schedule programs we put time consuming plans in place for handling registrations, moving our equipment from site to site, and scheduling Program Leaders for each program.
Our Program Leaders reserve the days for which they are scheduled to work for us. When we cancel programs our organization receives just a minimal payment with the intent that we would reschedule. We pay our Program Leaders for ½ the program time they were scheduled for. Each cancelled program costs our Program Leaders in pay they were expecting to earn, costs our organization significantly in planning and preparation time and payroll costs, and prevents our staff from taking other work on program days.
Because of the indefinite and unpredictable nature of the public health emergency in which we currently find ourselves, a “wait and see” approach would cost us and our staff in resources that is beyond our capacity.
But the programs are outside! Couldn’t we still have them and just be sure we stay far apart from each other?
We don’t see a responsible path forward for this approach after many hours spent discussing and brainstorming solutions. The most current information we have is that the Coronavirus can live on surfaces like metal and plastic for multiple days. Given the amount of shared equipment we use, from paddles to adaptive cycles, to helmets, to kayaks, it is not realistic to plan to fully and properly clean each piece of shared equipment between participants. Additionally, many of our program participants require our assistance with tasks such as transfers, buckling helmets, and assistance with balance. Finally, the majority of our program participants have underlying health issues or are seniors and are the most vulnerable to this illness.
How can I help?
Thank you for asking! First, please reach out to check on your loved ones and those in your community who are most vulnerable and may need assistance in meeting basic food, health, and medical needs.
Next, if you are financially able to make a contribution, that is the single most important thing you can do to help ensure All Out Adventures will be able to operate when this health emergency has passed.
We have calculated that we will need a minimum of $7,135 per month during this temporary suspension of our operations. This amount covers: rent for our office and storage units, 10 hours/week in payroll costs and associated taxes for Program Director Sue Tracy and I, required insurance, and the costs to maintain our telephone, website, and database. Our goal is to raise $42,810 in order to cover these essential costs for 6 months. We have already raised $22,000 of this amount.
If you are financially able to contribute, can you chip in to help us raise the remaining amount that we will need to ensure we can continue with our programs following this public health emergency?
We recognize that our programs promote the social connections, physical activity, and time spent in nature that are so critical to our well-being right now. We deeply and sincerely regret that we can not safely and responsibly provide these programs to so many who have come to count on us. Please know that we are here, we care deeply about our program participants, and we are committed to doing all that we can reasonably do to be able to resume our programs when this has passed.
On behalf of our staff and board, thank you all for being a part of this community that we hold so dear. We look forward to keeping in touch with you, and to getting back out on the trails, the bike paths, the rivers, and the lakes with you in the future.
My very best to you and your health,