• Essay Project 2021

Essay Project 2021: How Covid has affected Our Community through Small businesses and Organizations


By: Leah Wilson


Since the beginning of the pandemic lots of businesses and organizations have had to shut down, furlough employees, or close temporarily. According to a survey from the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) “As of late April, Nearly 45 percent of small businesses are closed and more than 50 percent of small businesses don’t have the ability for their employees to work from home.” Many businesses and organizations have a big role in keeping our community active and fun. An organization that has been hit the hardest is the Portland Community Theater. They haven't been able to host a play in almost a year, and for some people that was their main source of income.


The Portland Community theater has been one of the places that has been hit the hardest when Covid-19 reached Portland. They have impacted the community so much and not being able to host and perform plays it has been hard for them. According to J. Clinton Mabie, the president and CEO of CFSA, “The impact of COVID-19 on the nonprofit community is unprecedented. It has affected the capacity and sustainability of every nonprofit…”. According to Mary, the board president,”we have been closed for almost a year now. Without any shows we have lost our main source of income. Memberships have also declined while we have no shows...We have been very appreciative of the support from the community to ensure we can re-open.” The Portland Community theater is still continuing to do fundraising for their organization and have something planned this spring.


The Portland Community theater became an organization in 1955. Early on they had to perform in church basements because they didn't have any other places to perform. They bought the old sun movie theater in the 70s and movies were still being shown there at the time to generate some income to revamp the theatre. Building was paid off in the 80s and they only show live theater now.


The Portland theater has done so much for our community not only do they offer affordable family friendly entertainment but they also allow the community the opportunity to be in the plays or just watch. It's nice to be able to see people in the community perform and have fun. The theater is dependent on the community to run it through volunteers and people that act in the plays so the community is very involved with the community. They also have a youth summer theater program that involves the kids in the community that's been going on for over 50 years. Teaghan, a member that has been going to summer theater for 7 years says, “Summer theater has been an amazing experience. It helped me to find a community to support me and it gives me a creative outlet.”


I have been to many of their shows and have done summer theater. I really enjoyed expressing myself in that way and made many friends that I’m still friends with today. I love watching people in our community perform and I admire that we have such a talented community. I am very grateful for having the option to perform and to perform with other kids my age in summer theater.


This essay is part of a writing project by students in Chandra Polasek’s ELA class at Portland High School. The project asked students to focus on elements of their own town while getting students engaged with the community. The essays were written with the intention of being published in The Portland Beacon.


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