I came to The READ Center about 7 months ago. I moved to Richmond just days prior to starting my new job, after graduating from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) in May 2019. I was excited to begin my career in marketing, development, and communications, and figured that I would learn a lot while here.

Of course, I could not anticipate that I’d be on the organization’s front lines of communication during an international pandemic. I’ve been having to learn how to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak while also learning to navigate communications in general. It has been a trial by fire!

Like every organizatin, READ is dealing with several challenges caused by the virus . We are just over a month away from our largest fundraiser, The Great Richmond Trivia Bee. The Bee was scheduled for April 29th with more than 250 people attending… I’m sure you see where this is going.

The first rumblings of closures only happened a few days before things went crazy. On Monday the 9th, I sat down with Karen, READ’s Executive Director, and we agreed that while we would continue to prepare for the event, we would hold off from doing the things that could wait until the last minute. We needed to see what COVID-19 was doing first.

Within 72 hours, it became clear that we could not host the event in person. But Trivia Bee was just one aspect of it all. All other priorities went out of the window; there was a complete focus on dealing with COVID-19. We began communicating with supporters, gathering information from experts, and looking into alternative options for the Trivia Bee.

Our programs team had the most important job— figuring out what to do for students and tutors. To their credit, they wasted no time in making the right decision. A flurry of activity ensued, and within a day, classes, volunteer orientations, and student intakes were postponed through May. They are preparing for an even longer postponement should that prove necessary.

I write this as I work from home. Like many other organizations, at the end of last week READ adopted a schedule that keeps employees safely away from each other as much as possible. Working from home has not been a regular part of our office up until this week, but we are adapting as fast as new information comes out.

While we don’t know exactly what the coming weeks will look like, our first priority is making certain that everyone involved with READ is safe. We are having to let go of some things that were previously high priority. We are wading into uncharted waters and do not know how long we will be here.

I am certain that by the time this blog is published, things will have changed again. But I am also certain that READ will navigate this situation with the best interests of all in mind, and will come out of it as committed to its mission of changing lives through adult literacy as it has ever been.

Stay safe out there. We’ll see you soon!

-Jake Anderson,

Click here for the most recent information about how READ is addressing COVID-19.