The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt on everyday life for University of Georgia students, faculty and large student organizations.
Organizations like University Union and UGA HEROs provide activities and philanthropic events throughout the year for students and have made drastic changes to their event plans, funds and fundraisers for the fall.
Every spring semester, the two large organizations host events such as Union’s Dawgs After Dark activities and HEROs’ annual golf tournament for children with HIV/AIDS. Due to the pandemic, both organizations reallocated their resources and plans to take place this fall or in the near future, or have canceled events entirely.
“Our golf tournament, which is not going to happen until next May, brings in about $25,000 for the organization,” Patrick Femia, executive director of UGA HEROs, said. “Unfortunately, that’s the kind of income we’ll have to miss out on this year.”
Along with philanthropy events being postponed or canceled for HEROs, the organization has been challenged to find new ways to incorporate separate events for the children they serve. One of the main events for HEROs is bringing the children with HIV/AIDS to campus and interacting with them in a variety of ways.
This won’t happen until September at the earliest, Femia said.
University Union hosts numerous activities for UGA students and community members, such as inexpensive or free movies and concerts, stress-relieving activities during finals week and a carnival during homecoming. Union is currently trying to adapt their normal activities into virtual components, providing students with interactive activities from a distance.
“All our directors and committees are working extremely hard over the summer to plan our fall events with regards to safety precautions provided by USG and the CDC,” Quinn Hlava, president of UGA’s University Union, said. “We plan to continue to provide our events with virtual aspects to promote social distancing and enforcing the UGA mask policy.”
With the sudden change in event plans, the organizations have either redirected their money originally designated for the canceled and postponed events, have returned the money all together or are facing a decrease in funds going towards the philanthropy they serve.
University Union receives its funding from UGA’s Student Government Association’s allocation of student fees, so the money that was originally going towards the spring events was refunded to fee-paying students, Hlava said.
HEROs, however, receives their money for their program from various sources, such as fundraisers and donations. With the postponement of events that allocate money for the program, the fear of not making goals comes into the organization’s mind, Femia said.
The philanthropic organization is considering where to direct the money from the operating budget that originally went towards the golf tournament, which is about $12,000, Femia said. Currently, the health of future event attendees is in question, so the organization is working towards a solution for the direction of the budget.
“I do have a fear that we may not hit our financial targets for the school year,” Femia said. “However, I know people in the future can look at our trends for this year and I want them to be surprised that we dealt with the coronavirus and possibly made or exceeded our goal.”
Both organization leaders have hope that they can return to their fall plans, even while socially distancing themselves and wearing masks.
“I feel UGA students and the Athens community know how essential the programs are that we provide,” Femia said. “Regardless of what happens around us, I have a lot of hope that we can make our goals happen in the future.”