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Nonprofit View: Historical Society of Carroll County adapting to pandemic with online programs | COMMENTARY

“This will be my first time being a ‘Zoomer.’ I’ve been a ‘baby boomer’ my whole life so this will be something new!” I received this message from a terrific member and volunteer at the Historical Society of Carroll County. Due to social distancing guidance, we have been offering our Box Lunch Talks and Talks at the Tavern, two lectures series, virtually via Zoom.

While in-person events are better, I am humbled that our programs are, to some extent, why people are learning something new!

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Nonprofits are not known as being nimble, but COVID-19 forced the historical society to think differently. Back in March, when lockdowns were first implemented, our Marketing Committee, made up of volunteers, staff and board members, made the decision to stay connected to the community.

The best choice we had was online; the committee got to work. We created daily content for Facebook, including videos on prominent local figures like Mary Shellman and Louis Dielman, historic jewelry, and local industrial history. We also posted pictures, descriptions of collection items, and links to recorded talks and Carroll History Journal articles. It was a great collective effort! Our engagement metrics proved that a small group of dedicated people, even at a nonprofit, could be as nimble as for-profits.

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Our next challenge is hosting a “Virtual Gala.” Our Gala, usually held in April, could not be held due to COVID-19. With uncertainty still with us, the Gala will now be a live hourlong program on Sept. 12th at 7 p.m. In partnership with the Community Media Center the program will be broadcast on television and streaming online. Stay tuned for details!

The Virtual Gala will be a celebration of our community, past and present, and we hope you’ll join us! Our theme is “Breaking Barriers,” in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote. The Virtual Gala will feature local entertainers, trivia and interviews of current Carroll County barrier-breakers including Leslie Simmons, Virginia Harrison, Joan Coley, and Marjorie Lohnes.

As a nonprofit, the Historical Society depends on the community for funding. Our Gala is our most important fundraiser of the year. The proceeds from tickets, sponsorships and auctions provide 25% of our income. This year we are not selling tickets. Instead, we invite the community to help raise funds by joining our silent and live auctions via their smartphone or computer. If you are interested in participating in the auctions, contact 410-848-6494 ext. 200 or info@hsccmd.org for details.

You, the citizens of Carroll County, will have a large say in our success. The historical society is proud to be the prime repository for local history and caretaker of three of the oldest buildings in Westminster. We also offer expert library services and educational programming for all ages. Join us for our first, and hopefully last, Virtual Gala on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. and consider making a donation! Though you will be watching from your homes, you’ll feel closer to your fellow Carroll countians than ever before.

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Steve Jakobovic is executive director of the Historical Society of Carroll County.

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times publishes a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it, as our editorial. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”

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