Giving Compass' Take:

• Native Americans in Philanthropy interviews Shawna Maher, a Relationship Guidance Specialist at Denver Indian Center, about the difficulties of serving Native people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• What support do Native-serving organizations in your community need? Are you prepared to support these organizations quickly? 

• Not sure where to give? Consider supporting the Native American Community Response Fund

What are the biggest challenges Denver Indian Center faces when it comes to the COVID-19 epidemic?

We are closed to the public, but staff are working remotely to provide clients as much support as possible via non-personal contact. We will continue to provide information and limited support services through our respective programs. NWP is still distributing gas cards and bus tickets.  HFP is remaining in contact with participants and exploring ways of utilizing the internet for conducting classes. Although our general community food bank is closed, we are still distributing food packages to the seniors in our community.

Biggest challenges are finding ways to service our community without direct person-to-person physical contact or social distancing. Almost all services we offer are tangible and require direct contact or communication in delivery of services. One issue for Denver Indian Center is health and safety of the staff and our community; the community is in need most of the time and has many of the at-risk factors that make COVID-19 vulnerable to it. The secondary issue that we are facing is the need to keep the doors open. Our operational support is limited, so we can always use more funds supporting operational costs.

What do you wish the broader public and funders knew?

We operate on a limited budget for operations and a little more would make it easier to expand services and hire additional people. The Denver Indian Center is the go-to or epicenter of information for a significant portion of the American Indian community in Denver and surrounding areas. We are a strength-based organization promoting self-reliance and self- determination in supporting and advocating for our community. The pandemic has put a spotlight on the invisibility of our community by showing how much we are impacted, yet not receiving adequate resources to help support our community in every basic need.

Read the full article about Native-serving community centers at Native Americans in Philanthropy.