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'We're really being creative:' Non-profit CORE El Centro takes fundraising online

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Non-profit organizations are getting hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic. Many have had to cancel their largest fundraising events of the year because of social distancing. Milwaukee’s CORE El Centro is one of them. It was set to host its CORE Momentum gala for 500 people at the Italian Community Center on Tuesday, April 28th. Instead, the organization has had to improvise.

CORE El Centro’s mission is to provide healing services to everyone, regardless of their income. It makes services such as yoga, acupuncture, dance and cooking classes available to people who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

“We're really being creative right now, in thinking outside the box with ways that we can still be present for our clients,” said Rebeca Heaton Juarez, CORE El Centro’s program director.

Heaton Juarez said those services are more important now than ever, but finding ways to reach clients can be difficult.

“Those services are in smaller rooms, so we can't do those, because we want to protect people,” she said. “We have movement classes, but we can't do those because they're in confined spaces.”

Part of the solution has been to turn to virtual services and providing classes online to stay engaged.

“We've really had to shift things to online, virtual offerings and we've been able to be pretty successful in doing that with movement classes and children's classes,” Heaton Juarez said.

Heaton Juarez hopes that success continues, as CORE EL Centro takes its largest fundraiser online Tuesday night.

“As an organization, we're probably not as technologically savvy as we want to be, but I think this is really pushing us towards being relevant,” she said.

They’ve had to adapt. CORE Momentum usually draws hundreds of people. This year, they’re doing four days of special online classes and hosting a happy hour and keynote address Tuesday night, using Zoom. Heaton Juarez said, in some ways, this opens up opportunity for them, instead of imposing limits, since people can log on from anywhere.

“You can expect people from all over the United States and maybe from other parts of the world,” she said.

Communications manager Samantha Sanchez said focusing on CORE’s mission is keeping her connected.

“I think, personally, for me, it helps right now to feel like I might be helping other people access something that might be helping them,” Sanchez said.

And while CORE Momentum might not bring in as much money this year, Heaton Juarez said there’s more to it than that.

“The point of why we do this is to be in community, be with each other and get the word out about CORE,” she said. “And just be able to inspire others to, if not to donate to CORE financially, maybe they can donate their time.”

CBS 58 anchor Natalie Shepherd was supposed to emcee CORE Momentum Tuesday night, but instead will join the keynote address online. For more information on how to sign up, how to access classes, or to help, CLICK HERE

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