Local nonprofits virtually ready for in-person events

State will lift social distancing requirements, some masking requirements on June 15 as California reaches herd immunity target

TULARE COUNTY – As the state prepares to fully reopen retail, personal care businesses, and venues this month, local non-profits are ready to get back to holding in-person events.

Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties held its annual Birdhouse Auction virtually on May 14. The event featured an online auction of custom birdhouses created by local artists emceed by Amy Shuklian, chair of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, speed painter Rick Alonzo and a silent auction of more than 70 donated gift baskets, certificates and other items. For a full list of sponsors and silent auction donors, please go to www.hfhtkc.org/birdhouse-auction.

Deanna Saldana, resource development director for the local chapter, said while the event raised more than $53,000, there is still something to be said for face-to-face events.

“This virtual event was Habitat’s first going live with an on-line, live auction, and there was definitely a learning curve involved,” said resource development director Deanna Saldana. “Although we raised more money than during most in-person events, we missed the connections we usually make during this fun, casual fundraiser.”

The money raised at the event will help Habitat for Humanity pay for architectural plans, construction materials, and staff to oversee the building of new, affordable housing for an area which desperately needs it. But it doesn’t help Habitat build relationships with industry partners and local families who donate time, material and talents to keep down the cost of homes and make homeownership a reality for low income families.

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Habitat for Humanity is one of the latest local non-profits to hold its annual fundraiser. And while the online version of its Birdhouse Auction outraised previous years, the affordable home builder says virtual events may be costing nonprofits key face time with volunteers. File photo

“More than ever, Habitat for Humanity needs the community to join together with hard-working local families so they can build strength, stability and self-reliance,” Saldana said. “When everyone has access to a safe and affordable place to live, the entire community benefits.”

Like most nonprofits, Saldana is looking forward to June 15, when Governor Gavin Newsom has said he will lift nearly all of the social distancing requirements in California as the state reaches the once elusive herd immunity target through vaccination efforts statewide. Experts estimate the state would reach herd immunity when about 80% of the state is vaccinated. In Tulare County, around 143,000 residents have been fully vaccinated as of press time, which is about one-third of the population, and more than 302,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered, meaning another 160,000 residents may be fully vaccinated by mid-June. That would bring the total number of people fully vaccinated to more than 60%.

On June 15, California will move out of the color-coded Blueprint for Safer Economy system in place since August 2020 and remove restrictions for physical distancing, capacity limitations and most masking requirements. Fully vaccinated people will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors, except for large gatherings, live performances and events, and won’t be required indoors as long they are with other fully vaccinated people. Children under 2 years old, those with medical conditions preventing them from breathing through a mask and those who are hearing impaired and their companions are exempt from wearing a mask in all settings.

The major exception will be “mega events,” which the state describes as indoor crowds greater than 5,000 people and outdoor crowds greater than 10,000 people. These events are still considered a higher risk for COVID transmission because of the amount of time participants are spending in close proximity puts them at greater risk of spit and saliva, the likelihood of participants being from different states and countries with different variants of the virus, and it makes it more difficult to due contact tracing in case of an outbreak.

Those attending mega events will need to either show proof of vaccination or pre-entry negative test and must wear face masks and venues will be required to provide face masks. Event sponsors will also be asked to warn participants about the increased risk, encourage people to get vaccinated and sign up for CA Notify, increase ventilation and air flow, and to designate areas for eating, drinking and congregating to reduce the risk of transmission indoors.

For more information on these rules, visit Beyond the Blueprint Framework at www.cdph.org.

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