Coronavirus: Katy-area event organizers reflect on cancellations’ effect on community

Home for the Holidays Spring Gift Market hosted
The 2019 Home for the Holidays Spring Gift Market hosted vendors selling clothes, pillow, art, jewelry and food. (Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)

The 2019 Home for the Holidays Spring Gift Market hosted vendors selling clothes, pillow, art, jewelry and food. (Jen Para/Community Impact Newspaper)

Stacie Henry said the worst part about canceling the Home for the Holidays Spring Gift Market was telling the news to vendors.

“This is so financially devastating for them,” she said. “We’re refunding, but not everyone is. ... I’m not worried about myself; I’m worried about the vendors.”

Henry owns Home for the Holidays Gift Market—which was going to host its annual spring market in Katy at the Leonard E. Merrell Center on April 4-5—and used to be a vendor herself before promoting events, she said.

Henry and other Katy-area event organizers are having to cancel or postpone events and find new ways to host community activities given the recommendations for social distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

To help the market’s vendors, Henry plans to host a virtual market and is asking customers who planned to attend the April event to buy something online to help out the businesses. She is also going to ask the vendors to donate a percentage of each purchase to Hope Impacts, which is a local nonprofit that helps the homeless and was going to receive a portion of the event’s proceeds before the cancellation.

Additionally, Henry said she plans to ask local furniture stores to display a “handmade in Houston” section at their storefronts to help local vendors market their inventory that they planned to sell at her event, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and other events over the coming weeks that have been canceled or postponed.

Henry described a conversation she had with one vendor to explain the April event was canceled and that Home for the Holidays Gift Market will host additional events around Christmastime.

“The vendor told me, ‘We don’t know if we’ll still be in business by Christmas,’” Henry said.

Katy Market Day—which was scheduled to host its first monthly event of the year on March 21 but canceled due to health concerns—is also hosting a virtual market on Facebook. Local businesses and artists are sharing their stories and products on the page as well as offering delivery for online shopping.

Fundraising cancellations

The fourth annual Katy Charity Bubble Run, formerly a color run, has postponed a fundraiser for five local nonprofits to a tentative date in November, said Tina Hatcher, the executive director of Hope Impacts and the event’s race director.

Hatcher acknowledged that a November date is in the middle of the holiday season, but she did not want to choose a date within the next 60 days in case social distancing practices are still in place.

“We have people reaching out asking, ‘Can we cancel and get our money back?’” she said. “But we’re asking that people stay [and participate this fall.]”

The Katy Charity Bubble Run is not the only fundraiser that has been canceled or postponed in the Katy area. Hatcher said she knows of several local nonprofits that are canceling their fundraising events out of concerns for the coronavirus, which will make it more difficult to provide services.

“We count on [these fundraisers] to meet our financial obligations,” Hatcher said. “We have to find new opportunities to figure out how to meet needs in a new way.”

Finding new financial sources is not the only worry nonprofits have, she added. Organizations similar to Hope Impacts are struggling to provide day-to-day services to their clients.

“Churches have closed," she said. “We’ll have to set up in a parking lot [to provide services to the homeless] because we can’t service them in our office, [which does not have enough space].”

She urged residents to consider supporting local nonprofits year round rather than a handful of times at fundraising events.

“We need support all year long,” Hatcher said. “If the community supports us, we’d be ready [for situations like the coronavirus].”
By Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. She covers education, transportation, local government, business and development in the Katy area.


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