Thank you so much for checking in with us. We hope that you and all of the Alliance members are staying healthy and well.
First, some good news! At this point, our staff and clients are all COVID-19 free. We are working hard to keep it that way. We are under a stay-at-home order, but Hope Center staff had begun working from home two weeks previously when schools were shut down. As with everybody, it’s been a lot of change to digest all at once, but our staff and clients are amazing us with their ability to adapt. We have protocols in place to keep our staff and clients safe, which have included introducing virtual life skills groups via Zoom and Facebook Live. Our Transition Specialists are keeping in touch with their young adults via text and video chat. In our Youth Programs, our tutors are using video chat to continue to meet with their students and we are getting ready to pilot online LINKS (life skills classes for Wake County’s foster teens) in early April.
One of the best moments we have had as an organization was right as we transitioned away from working in the office. We had supplies to give to our young adults who were facing the double whammy of being quarantined and losing work hours. Everyone (staff and clients alike) had all begun to feel the emotional chaos surrounding all of the abrupt changes, a feeling we recognized would be triggering for many of our young adults because of the lack of control they experienced throughout their teen years. Because of our access to the wide open space in Finlator Hall, we were able to host a safe, in person gathering for our young adults. We were amazed at the response. Clients we had not seen in years came to experience the community and for help getting prepared for the quarantine. There was so much joy and laughter shared. I’ve attached a couple of pictures.
As far as needs, our clients (the majority of whom have been laid-off or had hours significantly reduced) are currently waiting on unemployment checks. The surge in unemployment applications resulted in a backlog and we are hoping they will begin to experience some relief in the next two weeks. In addition, we are seeing some completely unexpected disruptions to housing. One young woman and her daughter who were set to move seamlessly into their new apartment on April 1 will now be moving to a hotel because the County’s new personnel policies make it impossible for the required inspection to occur in time for her April 1 move-in date. The Hope Center has been providing financial support to help this young woman and others like her in the form of
- Rent and utility payments, purchasing hotel rooms to get clients off the streets, and paying security deposits as clients move from hotels into apartments. We anticipate redirecting a significant amount of resources to ensure that our young adults do not experience homelessness while they wait for unemployment or a return to regular working hours.
- Paying either internet bills or cell phone bills for clients who will lose service so that we can maintain contact with them. If clients can have internet service, then they can make calls, send messages and stay connected. While Spectrum does have a program that will give free service to a qualified group of individuals, not all of our clients qualify and, for those who do, there is a backlog.
Thank you again for checking in with us. This has been such a hard time, but, for me personally, it has also been an incredible reminder of how powerful a loving and committed community can be. I’m so grateful to be a part of the work the Hope Center is doing and for the daily glimpse it gives me of how resilient our young adults are and how open-hearted our community of supporters are. Thank you!