Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Community House of Moorestown was facing the worst financial crisis in its approximately 100-year history. In April, it set a fundraising goal of $100,000 to weather the storm.
By the end of August, the Community House had not only met that goal but surpassed it, thanks to help from the Moorestown community. While Community House is still in a tough financial position, its staff remains more hopeful than they were a few months ago, according to Executive Director Caryn Lynch.
“We’re excited to welcome the community back through our doors,” she said.
Community House is a nonprofit that was built with the understanding it was to be funded by residents. Eldridge Johnson donated the money to build in 1923, under the condition that the house not be funded by local government. That has not changed, and to this day, the nonprofit does not receive any funding from the township.
So when the pandemic resulted in a loss of rental income and the cancellation of the nonprofit’s two major fundraisers, it once again turned to the community for support. Lynch said staff spread word about their fundraiser via social media, emails, the press and word of mouth, and the Moorestown community answered the call.
In addition to a Facebook fundraiser, the Community House received donations via its website and by mail. Lynch said the funds made all the difference in keeping the nonprofit alive and sustained it during the last six months. In the last week of the fundraiser, Community House finally met, and even slightly exceeded, its $100,000 goal raising close to $150,000.
While in a better position than prior to the fundraiser, the Community House staff hopes Moorestown will continue to show its support. Lynch said now that the center can serve people at 25-percent capacity, it is open for indoor bookings.
For those uncomfortable with gathering indoors, Community House has a tent on its lawn. Adorned with bistro lights, the space is designed to give locals yet another option to accommodate their functions.
Given they had to cancel more than 200 scheduled events because of COVID, the nonprofit currently has a deficit. Lynch said staff has cut costs as much as it can, but there are insurance, maintenance and staffing costs Community House continues to carry. That leaves uncertainty about the financial future.
Lynch said people are currently deferring events or hosting them at home. Her hope is that they get more comfortable with booking events once they know Community House space is available. Its ballroom, the house’s biggest space, can fit around 70 people within the guidelines.
The Community House currently follows all safety guidelines: Anyone who enters the building must wear a mask, and there is signage throughout the interior that urges people to wash their hands and maintain social distance. Lynch said the nonprofit has been in close contact with its caterers and vendors to ensure they also adhere to food safety guidelines.
“We’re really hopeful that business will pick up now that social gathering and indoor gathering restrictions have been lifted, and that people will feel more comfortable booking events,” she said.
To learn more about the Community House, visit thecommunityhouse.com.