Finding a path forward

Hello WindowDressers community,

I hope this message finds you and your family safe and secure.  Like you, the staff and board members at WindowDressers are striving to adjust and adapt to life under the COVID-19 health threat and the economic plunge it has caused. We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our volunteers, our customers, and our staff, as well as ensuring WindowDressers’ financial and organizational strength for the long term.

Needless to say, Covid-19 is a challenge to how we operate.  Our work is dependent on a high level of in-person contact.  Our organization achieves its goals through the generous efforts of more than 1,500 volunteers across Maine and Vermont each year. These good people come into close contact with others, whether measuring windows in customers’ homes or gathering with participants at our Community Workshops to put inserts together.  On top of that, most of our volunteers are seniors who are more vulnerable to the Covid-19 illness, and so are more than half of our customers. We are adjusting our plans to safeguard the health of our volunteers and our customers.

In 2019-20, WindowDressers had its most successful season yet. We constructed a record 7,915 inserts to improve the warmth of homes in Maine and Vermont. Of those, a whopping 35.5% were given to low-income households at no cost. We expanded our services to new teams in Vermont and began to build a long list of energetic new leaders across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut eager to start a local WindowDressers Community Workshop of their own. In March, we were developing plans for a major expansion and a new, streamlined production facility. Then along came COVID-19.

What will our next season look like? Over the last month, we’ve been making plans for several different operational scenarios depending on how and when the pandemic recedes.  We are doing everything we can now that will enable us to adapt to rapidly changing conditions on the ground. Possible scenarios for the coming year include:

  • having a reduced, shortened, and/or delayed season if health conditions warrant safe operations later in the fall or winter;

  • suspending all measuring and insert building for one year until the danger from the virus fully passes and/or a vaccine and/or treatment become widely available

We are doing our best to prepare for all of these possibilities, keeping a flexible and nimble attitude about our future.  Our current staff is hard at work, with strong support from our Board. There is much to be done at this time of year: planning, training staff, updating resources and gear for our local teams, and improving our software. If we need to pause insert-making for a year, we will dive even deeper into this work, making more substantial improvements, so that we can emerge as a stronger organization on the other side.

While we do have some reserves to help see us through this crisis, COVID-19 is impacting our cash flow. Foundations are understandably focused on nonprofits serving on the front lines of the health crisis and the consequences of widespread unemployment. On top of that, a critical stream of income from paid inserts will be cut off if we are unable to build inserts this year. We are trimming expenses every place we can without sacrificing our staff or our future strength as an organization.

We fully expect to survive and flourish, but your support will make a difference. If you are on solid financial ground, please consider giving to WindowDressers. Your generosity will help keep us strong and ready to leap out of the gate when the virus recedes. We have set a goal of raising $20,000 from 200 individual donors by the end of April. We have already raised $2,725 from 14 donors. Can you help us get across the finish line?

Please make your donations online or mail a check to WindowDressers / PO Box 1135 / Rockland, ME 04841. Thank you for your support!

Note: the recently passed CARES Act created a $300 “above-the-line” tax deduction for charitable contributions even if you take the standard deduction and don’t itemize. This applies to donations made in 2020 and can be claimed on your 2020 tax return next year.

As Mainers and Vermonters hunker down in their homes for the common good, we are proud that so many of those homes are made more comfortable and more affordable to live in by the insulating window inserts we built together. With your help, we look forward to emerging from this pandemic stronger than ever and even better prepared to build on the success you have helped us achieve so far. Thank you!

Laura Seaton
Executive Director