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The COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of philanthropic institutions immensely clear. However, with public safety guidelines, helping the community has become more complicated. For coordinator Donald Chambliss, Jr. and administrator Sierra Martin, their commitment to service during COVID-19 has presented its fair share of challenges as well as opportunities. Chambliss, who works for the Macon Housing Authority, has found the distance from others to be the most challenging.

Challenges With Service During COVID-19

“Not being able to physically see my residents or provide certain services for them has been a big challenge,” Chambliss said. “We are overcoming this challenge by keeping in contact through video chat and emails. And soon, we will have Youtube videos for our monthly meetings, like our cooking classes and our job club .”

By contrast, Martin, who works for Loaves and Fishes Ministry, has struggled with having less distance from herself.

“The biggest challenge I have faced is the desire to over-perform, create, and accomplish,” Martin said. “The desire to always be in a constant state of growth is one I struggle with outside the confounds of quarantine, both personally and professionally, but I felt hyper-aware of my abilities and limitations during this period.”

COVID-19’s Impact On Community Outreach

For both Martin and Chambliss, community outreach with their organizations has shifted significantly. Despite the changes, providing impactful service during COVID-19 has remained the number one priority. This has often meant pausing specific programs and investing more in others.

“We have cut out most of our outreach except for our monthly food drives,” Chambliss said. “We have buckled down on those and have been able to serve more families.”

Adjustments for Loaves and Fishes have led to fewer volunteers onsite, yet more support for their cause.

“Though people have been unable to volunteer onsite, many of our former volunteers have continued their support of Loaves and Fishes Ministry, by sharing the work done by our ministry with their family and friends on social media,” Martin said. “Although the pandemic has been difficult for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations, I am inspired by the manner in which communities around the country have banned together.”

Community Support During COVID-19

Chambliss and Martin have seen this commitment to help throughout the Macon community. Chambliss has been surprised by Macon’s dedication to staying safe during the pandemic.

“Our community has not taken it lightly when compared to other cities in Georgia,” Chambliss said. “Everyone is being cautious and taking appropriate steps.”

Martin has been particularly amazed by the city’s generosity towards its most vulnerable populations.

“We are so proud of the manner in which members of our community have responded to the call to action to support those in need as well as our elderly citizens who found themselves homebound throughout the pandemic,” Martin said. “People found new ways of saying ‘I love you” to loved ones on special days and realized how grateful we should all be for the opportunity to embrace and hold family and friends.”

Service To Self During COVID-19

To truly be of service during COVID-19, self-care has been an essential part of Chambliss’s and Martin’s routines. Chambliss has deepened his understanding of the economy and his place in it.

“[I’ve been] educating myself on stock markets and other things,” Chambliss said. As well as using this time to plan better and to focus on how to serve my residents better.”

Martin has reverted to self-care strategies previously neglected before COVID-19, such as journaling. She has also taken a step back from social media and recommitted to her professional goals.

“[Something] that has kept me motivated is the career and professional goals, I have for myself,” Martin said. “The need for healthcare workers caused by the pandemic solidified the decision I’d make prior to the pandemic to return to school and pursue a career in a healthcare-related field.”

Beyond COVID-19: The Future of Philanthropy

Despite their different experiences during this pandemic, Chambliss and Martin both believe there has been a change for the better. Chambliss views this as a time to shake up old habits and explore new approaches.

“I will continue to evolve,” Chambliss said. “The pandemic has shaken us from our place of comfort and made us uncomfortable. To be better, we cannot dwell in a comfort zone.”

Martin has a similar perspective.

“I think this provided a lot of people with much need perspective. I am hopeful that the positive aspects of the communities’ response to COVID-19 have long-lasting effects on our hearts and minds.”


If you enjoyed this post, check out the first piece in this series, #PandemicPerspectives: Benjamin & Velasco on Transition During COVID-19

About Featured Professionals

#PandemicPerspectives: Chambliss & Martin On Service During COVID-19. Upclose picture of Donald Chambliss, Jr. wearing glasses at a wedding.

Donald Chambliss, Jr. is the ROSS Service Coordinator for Scattered Sites at the Macon Housing Authority. He is a community outreach specialist with 13 years of experience involving community & student education on the economic growth for going back to school, case management, and recruitment.

#PandemicPerspectives: Chambliss & Martin On Service During COVID-19. Upclose picture of Sierra Martin, sitting on a striped chair smilling at the camera with hands folded.

Sierra C. Martin is a Macon native and product of Bibb County Public School. She has a degree in Psychology and a passion for education, philanthropy, and the empowerment of marginalized groups. Martin is an active community advocate focused on improving the lives of those in need and eliminating barriers for young people to achieve prosperity. She is also a Harry Potter enthusiast (Go Slytherin!) with a love of Stevie Nicks and podcasts.

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