Home Medford News Cedar Run pleas for donations to continue operations

Cedar Run pleas for donations to continue operations

“If we ever go to the point of closure, there is no Plan B,” said Mike O’Malley, assistant director of wildlife rehabilitation.

Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge administrators O’Malley and Lori Swanson, director of wildlife rehab, have been faced with the difficulty of funding operations at the refuge; pointing to ceasing operations if donations cannot fill the void.

The reality of the situation had been one of the many unintended impacts of Gov. Phil Murphy’s March 16 (schools closed) and later March 21 mandates, but was presented as a dire move with positive COVID-19 cases increasing in the state from north to south.

As a result, the Medford wildlife center suspended its educational programs (no schools to visit or families to welcome), the Nature Center (no gatherings allowed), fundraisers (held in non-essential locations such as churches) and many others.

Recognizing the need for the strict measures, Swanson and O’Malley said the main sources of the organization’s revenue comes from the suspended programs. Money made from the programs helps support the Wildlife Hospital, which is required to continue operations as it is an essential business.

“On a normal year, we’re putting the pedal to the metal with our spring fundraising events, we have our serenade for wildlife concert, wine and wildlife, those are both cancelled,” O’Malley, assistant director, noted. “We do a ton of field trips with schools and other educational programs. With people not being able to congregate, those are all over indefinitely.”

Utilizing social media, the refuge hosted live classes on Facebook, but has also learned of a different form to solicit donations: Facebook Fundraisers.

Videos and pictures have been posted nearly every day showing animal releases or permanent residents. Permanent residents are animals who cannot be returned to the wild for safety reasons.

Attached to those posts is a “donate” button, requesting for users to make a monetary donation to the refuge.

Since the fundraiser’s March 19 launch, 695 people have donated a collective $28,417, as of deadline. The rehabilitation center is on pace to hit its $50,000 goal by May 1.

“Cedar Run doesn’t have an endowment or a safety net to fall back on,” O’Malley mentioned. “Although in six months, this may all have passed and we are able to generate revenue again, we have nothing to hold us through the next six months without urgent support from the public via donations.”

Swanson, director of wildlife rehabilitation, explained the pandemic has not affected how the refuge treats animals, but has made them alter how the public hands them injured animals. Instructions have been given out to people who come in with the animals.

Like many small businesses throughout the area, Cedar Run had to issue layoffs to many of its volunteers (who are all unpaid staff) to abide by social distancing mandates.

“Volunteers and people are transporting animals to us and we are the only center in the area for birds,” Swanson said. “Where there might be small centers for some mammals, there is no one for birds.”

Animals are brought in from as far south as the shore, Swanson said, and the hospital center treats animals for their ailments at the direction of certified hospital staff and experienced volunteers.

Another rescue for birds is roughly 90 minutes north of Medford.

Some visitors, Swanson and O’Malley added, have been stopping by the refuge to drop cash donations in the donation receptacles (nature trails at the refuge are still open).

Swanson mentioned the refuge recognizes people may be facing hardships of their own, adding smaller donations of $5 or less would still help, but sharing the refuge’s donation page helps more.

“Even if someone was only able to give a small donation, but then share that fundraiser on their social media or the text number, the more people we reach, the better,” she said.

A number has been set up to send donations via text message. Interested donors can donate by texting “CedarRun” to 44321. A secure link is sent for donations to be made.

Awaiting further updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state health department, O’Malley said reopening would occur shortly after they are given the OK by the public agencies.

“As soon as we’re told it’s safe, we’ll be back effective immediately.”

Exit mobile version