RED WING -- The United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties has moved to Old West Main Street.
The nonprofit organization moved from downtown Red Wing quickly after the building the organization was renting changed hands.
“Our building sold, the former owner sold it and the new owner gave us time to stay, he wasn’t going to take the building over until December but we decided we’d better get busy and find what’s available," Executive Director Maureen Nelson said.
Nelson explained that no one wanted to move in December so the search for a new location began right away. The building that is now hosting the organization is owned by a former board member and he helped to find a rental price that was within the United Way’s budget.
Despite finding a new building months before it was needed, the nonprofit had a problem: COVID-19.
“We signed the lease about three days before the shutdown,” Nelson said.
Because of social distancing orders mid-March, only one person could be in the former office at a time. So Laura Sand Prink, the community impact manager, packed up everything in the office by herself.
Once the boxes were packed, the plan was to have volunteers help with the actual moving. But that could not go according to plan either.
“We ended up having to hire movers," Nelson said. "Usually, we do everything with great volunteers from Red Wing Shoe and Xcel Energy, but because so many of them are on furlough at Red Wing Shoe and Xcel is working overtime, we couldn’t get those volunteers.”
Instead, a board member’s sons and Prink moved all of the boxes to the office on Old West Main Street and movers transported the furniture.
Nelson said that the former office is missed but the new building has more space and storage. And it is in the same building that hosts the food shelf.
“So, it is a good location for us,” Nelson concluded.
While local United Way staff members are finally able to settle into the new office, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continue to be felt. One of the main ways that the United Way raises money is through pledges of gifts through payroll deductions (each fall the nonprofit visits workplaces and people pledge donations). This form of income has been drastically cut due to the number of businesses throughout the community that furloughed workers.
“It’s a lot of balancing, hours have been cut. We’re doing the best we can to get the work done," Nelson said.
This week United Way staff will meet with the board’s marketing committee to find creative ways to raise funds.
“It’s really forcing us to think outside the box and try new things,” Nelson said.