MILWAUKEE — As many places experienced a decrease in attendance during the coronavirus pandemic, non-profit Courage MKE saw the opposite.
"We had to actually increase services," Brad Schlaikowski, co-founder and executive director of Courage MKE said.
Courage MKE operates the Courage House. It's a home designed for displaced LGBTQ+ youth. As schools closed, the kids that lived there spent more time at the Courage House. That means they used and needed more of Courage MKE's services.
"The food costs, the utility cost that were not planned when we were deciding our budget last year," Schlaikowski said.
This put a slight financial strain on Courage MKE.
"When we look at our payroll alone I mean we're upwards between $50 and $60,000 that we didn’t account for," he said.
Overall, Courage MKE is in a good place financially, but the coronavirus has put a roughly $60,000 dent in the annual budget. It's the same for other LGBTQ+ organizations in Milwaukee. They had to operate at maximum or above full capacity. For that reason, Courage MKE decided to establish a fundraiser for five local LGBTQ+ organizations, including itself.
It's called Proudly Together.
The goal is to raise $50,000 and split it evenly between the five organizations: Our Voice Milwaukee, Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Courage MKE, PathFinders, and Diverse & Resilient.
The funds will allow organizations to continue offering vital services like counseling, shelter, and meal programs.
"My biggest fear, the one that makes me lose sleep at night, if I don’t have staff, these kids don’t have a house. So where do these five kids go? That's what keeps us up at night," Schlaikowski said.
The fundraiser lasts until July 15. You can visit the Courage MKE website for more information about how to donate.