Loaves & Fishes needed help to work effectively in the cloud. Apparo supported them with a Community Impact Project and IT Coaching, just in time to be prepared when the pandemic hit.
Loaves & Fishes provides a week’s worth of nutritionally balanced groceries to individuals and families experiencing a short-term crisis through a network of 35 emergency food pantries located throughout Mecklenburg County. They had been using an on premise server to house their files and documents, but recently adopted O365 and reached out to Apparo for help utilizing SharePoint and OneDrive to store their documents. Apparo matched Loaves & Fishes with a volunteer team from SoftwareONE to help with his migration. See PDF of Project Snapshot.
The Community Impact Project kicks off in the summer of 2019 and succeeds in improving Loaves & Fishes’ ability to serve those in need.
SoftwareONE gathered pre-requisites for migration of data from an on-premise server, built a SharePoint site, permissions and a document file structure to support Loaves & Fishes business needs. They also supported Loaves & Fishes in the migration of files and documents. This effort allows Loaves & Fishes to have their documents accessible in the cloud and provide for better collaboration and business efficiencies.
Tina Postel, Executive Director, explains the importance of this project, “A lot of my staff don’t have typical desk jobs. We need to be out, making sure that people are being fed and meeting with our donors, volunteers and community partners, so we need technology to be available at our fingertips. Having your files all locked in a server restricted us. To be able to have access to data and information anywhere makes us be able to serve our neighbors more efficiently.”
Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hits, Loaves & Fishes reached back out to Apparo for IT Coaching to improve their use of Teams.
Upon completion of this Community Impact Project, Paige Stryker, Information Technology Coordinator at Loaves & Fishes, reached out to Apparo for additional support in improving the organization’s use of Teams. Because of their successful migration, Paige recognized that that their growing organization was now well-positioned to begin collaborating and managing projects virtually. When she reached out to Apparo for support in late 2019, little did she know how critical their migration and successful adoption of Teams would be. Apparo matched her to IT Coach David Gray (then at Novant Health) to help address her immediate questions and prepare a training plan for her organization. The relationship between Novant and Loaves & Fishes has continued, well beyond their Apparo IT Coaching engagement. Currently, Bridget Niebergall of Novant Health leads Teams trainings for the organization.
The timing could not have been better, enabling Loaves & Fishes to successfully work remotely and fulfill the higher needs of their clients.
Paige shares that due to the pandemic, need this past spring has tripled. “We went from serving 1,000 people a week to 3,000 and we lost most of our volunteers due to the contagion risks. We shut down all of our brick and mortar pantries and went mobile. That required a huge collaboration across the organization. If we had not been able to quickly adapt to Teams when we went virtual, we would not have been able to meet the overwhelming demand for food. We needed to figure out schedules for the mobile unit teams and collaborate on fundraising. We are able to be more efficient and wise with our donors’ dollars. We aren’t wasting time emailing documents or dropping off notes at the office. The use of Teams allows us to communicate effectively out in the field. We are therefore better able to fulfill the higher need of our clients.”
As she reflects on the importance of this work, Paige explains, “We would not have been able do it without Apparo and Novant. We would be using email and working much less efficiently. Apparo is that bridge between the nonprofit world and the tech world, filling that critical need. Apparo has a growth mindset and provides us with the guidance we need to move our organization forward.”
Novant Health volunteers have continued to support Loaves & Fishes and share how much the experience has meant to them.
David Gray (formerly of Novant Health): “I believe I can speak on behalf of everyone that it feels like Paige is an extension of our team and, despite all of the COVID challenges, it’s been a true joy for all of us on the Novant side. Hearing about the positive impact we had on their organization makes me feel great.”
Bridget Neibergall: “I am a HUGE fan of Paige and have loved working with her and the team at Loaves & Fishes immensely. Paige’s talent, ability to learn quickly and collaborative personality have made our sessions productive and enjoyable – she is a great asset to a wonderful organization. It’s been a great match. It’s a breath of fresh air to engage with another group and corporate culture. Seeing their development has been extraordinarily motivating and validating. It’s valuable, enjoyable work.”