CANCELED: Cheese, Cider, Culture & Community Action Fundraiser Planned for October 17, 2021

     The decision has been made to cancel the L.E.A.P. Fundraiser “Cheese, Cider, Culture & Community Action,” planned for October 17, 2021.
     This week, our Executive Director, Outreach & Development Coordinator, and the Fund Development Committee of the Board met via Zoom to discuss our concerns.  Due to the recent COVID uptick in our area and the surrounding counties at this time, we do not feel that the format of the planned fundraiser is compatible with protecting the health and safety of vendors, potential attendees, staff, volunteers, and those that they interact with.
     Washington County is currently in the “substantial” transmission category, and the neighboring counties of Warren, Saratoga, and Bennington, from which potential attendees might also live, is currently in the “high” transmission category.  Washington County Public Health has now recommended that, in accordance with CDC regulations, all people regardless of vaccination status should again wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas identified as substantial or high transmission.  The planned format of the fundraiser with attendees sampling food and beverage as they stand and walk around the room is not compatible with this recommendation.  Even if the mask recommendation is again lifted for those vaccinated by mid-October, the vaccination rate in Washington County is only 53%, comparatively lower than our surrounding counties and the state average.  We had hoped that this would be a family-friendly event, attracting people of all ages, including those under the age of 12, who are currently unable to be vaccinated.  The majority of our staff work with many of those most vulnerable, including seniors with medical issues in our transportation program, and up to 341 children in our home and center-based Head Start / Early Head Start program, which serves pregnant women and children up to age 5.
     Although a fundraising event is very important to a non-profit, the health and safety of our staff, clients, and families we serve is our top priority.
     At this time, we cannot know whether the transmission rate will improve by October, and out of respect for the venue, our entertainment provider, the vendors, and others who agreed to commit their time and services, we wanted to make a swift decision to give as much notice as possible for those who will need to make other arrangements.
     We were looking forward to this event and are disappointed that we had to make this very difficult decision.  We hope to be able to plan a fundraising event with the same goals in some way, but will have to re-think our ideas in accordance with the changing circumstances of the pandemic.
     We sincerely hope you will understand our decision during these challenging and continually changing circumstances.