Guest blog by Tom Hanley of Nine13sports

What happens when everything stops?

That was the question I mulled over in my head on Friday, March 20 before the Nine13sports office closed for an extended 2-week spring break and programming was suspended indefinitely as the COVID-19 pandemic turned our world completely upside down. The future was bleak and the number of questions I had greatly outweighed the number of answers I could give my team about what direction the organization was headed.

That question prompted additional questions, including, but not limited to: What can we do to assist the COVID-19 relief efforts? How do we keep staff employed and engaged while still earning full salaries? What can we do to repurpose our fleet of vehicles to provide fast responses to organizations who need help meeting their service needs through organizational and logistical support?

These questions and the subsequent answers to them were going to pose a challenge, however, I knew sitting around and waiting for answers was not an option. As I learned a long time ago, opportunities to make an impact do not just fall into your lap. We had to be proactive, seek out opportunities and reach out to current and prospective partners looking for ways to help with the remarkable efforts undertaken by entities on the front lines who were taking care of our most vulnerable neighbors. I never imagined we would rewrite our entire operations model in five days, but that was what was needed for the team at Nine13sports to support our fellow Hoosiers. We are now distributing 150,000-200,000 pounds of food per week throughout the community – alongside Gleaners and Second Helpings – and all our staff has remained employed without any furloughs.

Our mission has always been to help make the communities we work in stronger. Amid all the uncertainty and panic, that is our pledge to the community that will forever be deep-rooted in the fabric of our organization. When anyone needs a helping hand, the furtherance of a purpose or someone to step up in dire times, the Nine13sports team will be there. I always knew that I could count on our team to be resilient in times of hardship, and now our fellow residents know that they can count on us as well. Whether it be through using the bicycle as an educational tool or providing logistical support for food distribution, we will always find a way to roll up our sleeves to do anything that helps support this incredible city and its residents that have given us so much since our inception in 2012. We have validated to ourselves that we will be a staple in the city of years to come and will represent our city with pride and devotion and serve its residents no matter what hurdles are in front of us.

To learn more about Tom Hanley and Nine13sports, listen to Episode 90.