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Commentary COVID-19 in Maryland Working & the Economy

Open Letter to Congressman Raskin: Protect Our Nonprofits

The U.S. Capitol. USGS photo by Toni Smith.

To U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin:

Like thousands of your constituents, I remember my first day of swim lessons at the YMCA. As I left my grandfather’s grip and waded into the freezing-cold water, two hands gripping the tile sides of the pool, I began to cry. I felt like I would never learn to swim. But learn I did, and, although I am close to 18 now, I still consider myself a perpetual Y-Kid.

Through the Y’s swim programs, I found confidence in water and discovered a lifelong, lifesaving skill. Through the Y’s Youth & Government program, I serve as Youth Governor of Maryland and find inspiration to enter public service at every program event. Through the Y’s diabetes prevention
programming, I know I’ll find hope as the son and grandson of diabetics.

But the COVID-19 crisis threatens to topple the charity cornerstones of my life and our community.

The complete shutdown in economic activity over the next weeks will prevent many organizations, including my own Youth & Government program, from hosting the events they need to maintain revenue streams and program funding. An inevitable economic downturn will force many Americans to cut their charitable giving for the year short: punching charities in the gut when their services are needed most.

However, there is another staggering economic dimension to the challenge facing our charities. Payrolls in the independent sector are larger than those even in the construction, finance, and transportation industries. Nonprofits like the Y employ more than 12 million people who compose the fabric of their communities. Millions of livelihoods are now at risk of dying out.

Sooner than later, 44,504 people in just Montgomery County could lose their jobs. Maryland’s 8th congressional district might find itself bereft of A Wider Circle, which provides homegoods, counseling, and antipoverty education to families in need. It is horrifying to imagine what the Montgomery Blair High School community would look like without the youth and family services provided by the Silver Spring Y or the lifesaving generosity of Manna Food Center.

Representative Raskin, I implore you. Just as you have stood up for your constituents and defended the
common good on countless other occasions, fight the good fight now. The nationwide nonprofit community has recently released a request for Congress to allocate $60 billion in relief for nonprofits on the frontlines of the Battle Against Coronavirus. My fellow constituents and I humbly ask that you advocate to your colleagues for this relief and help ensure that any stimulus package relieving corporations decimated by the current crisis also relieves the nonprofits whose work is so vitally important.

Remember nonprofits when it comes time to vote — your help will not be forgotten by me and by thousands
of your constituents.


The writer is a student at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.


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Open Letter to Congressman Raskin: Protect Our Nonprofits