BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL Lodi House in Lodi Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

Starting this fall, a group of dedicated students from University of the Pacific will be offering their skills to help Lodi House with fundraising, engaging new donors and more.

It’s great news for the Lodi-based nonprofit, which offers shelter, counseling and support to women and children struggling with homelessness.

“We’re very excited!” said Shelby Young, Lodi House’s executive director.

Staff at the nonprofit will be working with Pacific’s Integrated Development Group. Currently led by managing director Ryan Maccuish — who is entering his senior year at the Stockton university — the IDG is a student-driven management consulting group. The group offers free assistance to selected nonprofits all over the world, helping with everything from grant writing and strategic planning to web design and marketing campaigns.

Young applied for the program on Lodi House’s behalf last year.

“What Lodi House has asked us to do is raise awareness of the organization in the community, and market and fundraise for them,” Maccuish said.

He and the Integrated Development Group’s executive board — made up of his fellow students — have already begun outlining a three-phase plan, starting with marketing to raise local awareness of Lodi House and its mission.

“We’re definitely going to do a little bit of work over the summer,” he said.

That way, the student analysts and consultants can hit the ground running when the fall semester begins, he said.

Some of the plans include analyzing Lodi House’s current outreach, marketing and social media campaigns. The IDG will also study similar nonprofits to see what strategies they used, Maccuish said.

Then, in later phases, they will work with Lodi House staff to develop new outreach and marketing strategies, as well as fundraising campaigns and potential events.

Young is looking forward to working with the IDG. With nonprofits like Lodi House, she said, staff members often end up wearing multiple hats and may not have the time to sit down and craft a new fundraising or community outreach campaign.

While Lodi House is well-known in the city, Young hopes that IDG can help then raise their profile, making it easier to find donors — and for potential clients to find them and learn about their mission.

One current client spent time living out of her car, putting off reaching out to Lodi House because she thought they were a traditional shelter, not a structured housing program.

In addition to housing, the nonprofit provides food, clothing and necessities, professional counseling, individualized goal setting and personal growth services, and connections to community resources.

In exchange, Lodi House clients follow house rules, do chores, remain drug- and alcohol-free, attend workshops, complete goals and growth assignments, and more. While they do not have to be employed to apply, clients are expected to find a job and work at least 32 hours a week, and save a minimum of $1,000 while in the program.

Clients come from all walks of life, Young said.

“We’ve had people who lived under a bridge and moved here, but we’ve also had people who have been in other programs,” she said.

She’s also excited to work with Pacific students, something that has been on her wishlist for a while.

“I always appreciate just working with that next generation,” Young said.

The partnership moving forward is a bright spot amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has derailed several of the nonprofit’s plans over the past several months.

The annual Be Amazing! event, one of Lodi House’s largest fundraisers, had to go virtual after the state issued shelter-in-place orders in March.

Lodi House will mark 20 years in service of the community on Sept. 11 of this year, and had planned to celebrate. With cases of COVID-19 on the rise, it’s looking like a dinner or gala is not in the cards. Now, staff is working to come up with an alternative — perhaps a drive-thru event of some kind.

“Everything looks different and is changing,” Young said. “As a nonprofit, it’s somewhat scary.”

Still, she looks on the bright side.

“Every day that everybody’s healthy, we’re grateful,” she said.

Lodi House and the Integrated Development Group were originally set to work together during the spring 2020 semester. Then, COVID-19 hit, setting back everyone’s plans.

The students are looking forward to helping the Lodi nonprofit, Maccuish said.

He began working with the IDG when he was recruited as a sophomore.

“I was really inspired by IDG’s mission statement, and what they aim to do with the community,” he said.

The group’s goal is to give students a place to get work experience and hone their skills, but it’s rewarding to know that the work they do helps people.

Students in the program come from all different backgrounds and majors, and each has something to bring to the table.

Working with his fellow students and staff members from the chosen nonprofits is his favorite part, Maccuish said.

“It’s definitely the people — not only the people I get to work with, but the organizations I get to work for,” he said.

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