Raising Funds for Families in Crisis

October 12, 2020
Ryan Imondi

Melisa Morgan, Early Childhood Services Manager, has spent seven years at Children’s Institute helping to improve the quality of early education services for families living in high-poverty communities of Los Angeles. In March, the COVID-19 pandemic swept through South LA and devastated families who were already struggling financially. Morgan saw the impact firsthand and decided to mobilize friends and family to raise life-saving funds.

To date, Morgan and her network have brought in $20,500 for CII’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. The money raised has gone directly to purchasing food and other essential supplies like diapers and formula, along with rent relief for families whose household income disappeared in the spring.

“Partnership and relationships are important to me so when the pandemic started, I wanted to use those relationships to advocate for our CII families,” Morgan said.

The money came in through a combination of members at Morgan’s church, Oasis LA, and her immediate family. Oasis LA, located in Koreatown, previously supported CII by helping Morgan enroll families in CII services and send volunteer groups to clean up and beautify CII sites.

Jennifer Perkins, Community Relations Director at Oasis LA and a close friend of Morgan, said the church’s pastors, Julian and Christina Lowe, believe in CII’s mission and wanted to take an active role to support families. The church selected CII to be one of 10 organizations they supported through a fundraising campaign called Healing Los Angeles. Members at Oasis LA brought in $10,000 in the first two weeks and an additional $3,500 over the following two weeks for CII.

COVID-19 fundraising for familiesMelisa Morgan and Jennifer Perkins doing outreach in 2016 to enroll families in CII’s Early Childhood Education programs.

“We decided the best thing we could do is support everyone financially,” Perkins said. “There are essential organizations on the front lines trying to fill a gap exacerbated by COVID-19, and we wanted to make sure they are supported because people in the community are so dependent on these resources.”

Morgan also found success enlisting her mom, Joline Morgan. Though she lives a thousand miles away in Washington state, she was compelled to donate as she heard stories from her daughter about the unique challenges families in South LA were facing. Joline Morgan pledged to donate $1,000 to CII each month until the pandemic ended.

“I envy Melisa because I would give anything to spend my life doing what she is doing,” Joline Morgan said. “She truly cares about and wants to make a difference in the lives of children and families.”

For Melisa Morgan, she sees her efforts aligning with national conversations around social justice and equity. Reports have shown that the heaviest economic impact of the outbreak has been within Black and Latino households. A recent survey showed 52% of Black and 71% of Latino households in LA reported “serious financial problems,” compared with 37% of white households. In a recent survey of 1,000 families in CII’s early education programs, more than 40% reported a loss or employment or a reduction in hours.

“A lot of my faith is guided by justice-minded solutions so whatever I can do to help people and bring more equity, I am going to try and do” she said. “My personal values are also reflected in CII’s values so this work really makes everything come together.”

Make a donation to families impacted by COVID-19 here.