One of Loudoun’s longest-serving nonprofits, Blue Ridge Speech & Hearing Center, will be winding down at the end of July, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit announced the news in a press release Monday, citing the impacts of the pandemic on the nonprofit’s face-to-face services.
“Operating a non-profit organization such as ours is difficult enough, given regular competition and changing demographics,” stated Board of Directors Chairman John Steigerwald. And the COVID-19 pandemic created “insurmountable” impacts to the nonprofit’s client services and business.
“For many of our services there must be face-to-face contact, and the current environment made that impossible,” Steigerwald said.
Blue Ridge Speech & Hearing Center opened its doors in 1964, and has served Loudoun and surrounding counties since then, dedicated to improving the quality of life for its clients by enhancing basic speech and hearing needs.
It was the first speech and hearing organization in Loudoun, and when needed, provided discounted or subsidized treatment for people with speech, language, hearing, and developmental challenges.
In addition to providing speech therapy and hearing assistance, the nonprofit also offered occupational therapy and help dealing with food disorders.It was the only nonprofit clinic providing blended audiology, speech therapy and occupational therapy.
“This is not the outcome we hoped for as we fought to maintain operations, and the entire Board of Directors and staff are deeply saddened to move forward with the winding down,” Steigerwald said. “It brought all of us great pleasure to help others—from young children to older adults—to achieve a better lifestyle.”
It is a reminder that front-line nonprofits like food pantries and health clinics are not the only ones feeling keenly the impacts of the pandemic. And in particular, said Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties Executive Director Amy Owen, fee-for-service nonprofits like the Blue Ridge center are seeing their revenues disappear.
“A group like Blue Ridge Speech & Hearing that relies on copayment from insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, if they can’t serve those clients because of COVID, then they can’t get the balance of their income through the door,” Owen said. “That’s a perfect example of a huge loss to our community.”
Many other nonprofits in Loudoun, such as ECHO or the Arc of Loudoun, are facing similar challenges as pandemic precautions make it difficult to serve clients.
Owen advised people in Loudoun to donate to their favorite nonprofits as they struggle through the pandemic.
“If you’ve donated to a group before in the past, if those are charities you’ve supported in the past, keep doing it,” Owen said.
The Community Foundation also has a Community Emergency Relief Fund which recently distributed $100,000 to nonprofit human service organizations. Donations to that fund, which bolsters the COVID-19 emergency response and relief efforts in Loudoun, can may be made at communityfoundationlf.org/emergencyrelief.
And, Owen said, “be an ambassador.”
“A personal recommendation for a charity, it’s huge,” Owen said.
Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing has retained an adviser experienced in winding down operations to guide the board and staff. More information about the process will be made available as it proceeds.