Princeton nonprofits continue operations during coronavirus pandemic

Eden Autism Services nonprofit facility in Princeton on March 26.ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF
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Eden Autism Services nonprofit facility in Princeton on March 26.ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

The coronavirus outbreak has Princeton nonprofits making cuts and modifying services.

Several nonprofits such as the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ), YWCA Princeton and Eden Autism Services have had to adapt their staffs and programs to the stay at home order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“We tried to stay open as long as we could, because we had people who come in daily or weekly and even sporadically. The night we closed our doors physically we opened our doors virtually,” said Robt Seda-Schreiber, chief activist for BRCSJ. “I had the epiphany of creating the weeknight social justice power hour, since launching two weeks ago it has been inspirational.”

He added that the weeknight power hour has a specific theme each night and is from 7-8 p.m.

The social power hour has featured transgender activist Gavin Grimm and author Ayelet Waldman, according to Seda-Schreiber.

BRCSJ is a community activist and educational center that specializes in acceptance of the LGBTQ community and diversity.

“We make sure that if there are children not being heard and that we hear them whether it is through a phone call or sharing a screen during the day. We also realize that especially in our LGBT alliance community this is a difficult moment,” Seda-Schreiber said. “A lot of our people are at home now with families who may be accepting of who they are.”

Seda-Schreiber is part of a full-time staff of two at BRCSJ.

“I am always ready for the worst, but we have had tremendous support. Personally, I have forgone my salary,” Seda-Schreiber said. “For the next couple months HiTOPS, which is our landlord, has allowed for a significant reduction in our rent for us to survive. It is a challenging moment, but I believe we will come through.”

Across town, nonprofit YWCA Princeton focuses on eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace.

The organization includes after school and literacy programs. Currently, YWCA Princeton has suspended the organizations programming.

“Although we need to be closed to prevent and stop this virus, we have been able to do some operations remotely. We have three ESL literacy operating remotely and have teachers emailing students and parents on items they can do during this time to promote healthy living,” said Judith Hutton, CEO of YWCA Princeton. “We also have sent out to everyone where they can find resources if there is financial difficulty during this period and can also contact me.”

YWCA had to layoff staff and now have a full-time staff of seven, according to Hutton.

“Our current staff is working around the clock to prepare our buildings for when we can open. We are very limited in what we can provide, but we are offering online services. We are solid financially for next two months,” Hutton said. “We are looking at other avenues of funding such as the CARES Act or YWCA USA relief fund.”

Another nonprofit navigating the new landscape is Eden Autism Services, which is geared to providing child and adult autism services in Princeton.

During the coronavirus outbreak the organization has temporarily closed their school and adult day programs; provided developed in-home learning plans for families and kept adult residences open.

According to Eden, the organization’s funding comes several sources such as school districts, the state, Medicaid, and individual, foundation and corporate donors.

Currently, Eden continues to operate and has instituted ways families can continue working on their educational programs remotely.