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While businesses, local governments, families and other community groups grapple with the substantial and harmful effects of COVID-19, many people and community groups are looking to the health and social services sector for services, emergency help and direction. Since the early years of the REACH Foundation’s start, the foundation has remained firm in its commitment to supporting a high-quality health care safety net system available in times of need. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt lives in a multitude of ways, we are grateful for the nonprofit partners that have stepped up to meet increased demand.
The REACH team wants to give thanks to our partners and highlight their resourcefulness, as well as share a few examples from organizations that continue to be present for their own workers and their communities.
In response to calls from agencies our office has been fielding, UCS has created a Facebook group to share needs for hard goods needed by human services organizations, referred to as the “Johnson County COVID-19 Community Organization Resource Exchange.” The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on the supply of goods that human service organizations need to meet the needs of the community. Other organizations have some of those goods on hand and are able to offer them to the groups that need them. This Facebook group is a place to connect organizations that have supply needs with those that have goods available. The group is for the exchange of goods only, not for fundraising. In order to keep the evolving lists of requests and offers current, each week a new post will be generated by the UCS administrator where organizations can comment with a list of their current requests and offers. UCS is encouraging organizations to share this link with their networks.
As Synergy Services works to provide outpatient counseling, and remote therapy and case management across all programs, the executive staff are also focused on maintaining a level of support for staff. To keep staff connected during this time, we are using tools like Zoom for meetings and finding other ways to reach out to our team. To recognize their dedication to clients, we put together a video celebrating the special commitment of frontline staff who are working directly with clients in our shelters and housing programs providing face-to-face care and advocacy. Our development director, Jennifer Hurst, sent an email to our front-line teammates to ask them to share a photo so we could highlight their efforts. We’re proud of this first video; it makes us happy to see these Synergy staff who are so dedicated to their work.
JVS staff members have embraced telecommuting and worked to make adjustments in how they connect with and support their clients. As is the case with many organizations, JVS paused direct services at our main offices. Staff continue to serve clients through telephone and video conferencing, and in-person when needed. When stay-at-home orders were first issued, JVS staff distributed information packets in the various languages spoken by clients. To reach populations that are less likely to tap into traditional media resources, agency staff produced a short video interview with a Swahili-speaking physician and social worker to explain the shelter-in-place guidance and other information about the coronavirus, how to identify symptoms and ways to stay healthy. The video was developed specifically for our Congolese community members.
Our team has also been emphasizing self-care during this uncertain time – and even trying to add a little levity into the workday. Staff have been set up in workgroups with people outside their functional teams so that they can meet remotely to share challenges they are facing and get perspectives from outside their normal circle. It is our hope these sessions will be a place to check in with each other and to learn from others in the organization. Bottom line, we are working to set the tone that it is OK to feel anxious, and to ask for help.