Pandemic Fundraising: Online Auctions for Work Opportunities

Richard Suico and Armando Ortiz

On March 12, 2020, our committee – over a dozen committed community members – met at Brigid’s Bottle Shop in Edmonds, planning the final elements of our first Run to Work fundraiser. The event was designed to raise funds for Work Opportunities, a Lynnwood-based organization that provides essential supported employment services to nearly 450 people with disabilities in Snohomish, King and Whatcom counties.

Edmonds resident Armando Ortiz had qualified for the Boston Marathon and was going to run on behalf of Work Opportunities. The synergy between Armando’s racing exploits and the Work Opportunities mission excited the whole committee to see how much we could reap from the event. Many businesses and local residents donated items for our silent auction and raffle. Jack Crawford, owner of Brigid’s, provided the venue and invaluable marketing assistance. Edmonds resident Susan Powell, co-chair of the event, had worked tirelessly to ensure that the attendance matched our enthusiasm.

And the next day, everything changed.

It is impossible to grasp all the tragedy endured in this global fight against COVID-19. Another toll of the pandemic is the damage done to nonprofits that depend on fundraising to generate income (to just pay the bills). One of these organizations is Work Opportunities.

“When the stay-at-home order went into effect in March 2020, 192 clients were fired from their jobs, leaving just eight clients classified as ‘essential’ and still employed,” said Carrie Moorehouse, executive director of Work Opportunities. “And the revenue from our fundraising gala auction, the event that supports our mission, has been dramatically reduced by 50%.”

This year the committee met again and our sponsors also stepped up, but alas, when the inside mask mandate came back into effect, we made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person gathering again. .

The creative solution we used is to have an online auction, starting immediately, featuring incredible Mariners tickets (updated almost daily) on our website: runtowork2021.com. The auction will peak on the night of October 2, the night we were to host the live event. Thanks to a dedicated committee and local businesses like Where U Brew from Gallaghers, Ortiz Landscaping and Brigid’s, we should be able to generate the funds we need so badly. And Armando and his colleague Richard Suico qualified for the 2022 Boston Marathon (Richard also qualified for this year’s marathon!).

So, we are looking forward to, potentially, a live event next year.

– By Steve Monroe, on behalf of Work Opportunities


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