10 Weeks – What a Difference

In ten short (or maybe we should say long) weeks so much has changed. Schools are closed, and families are experiencing financial hardships like never before. As a nonprofit directly working with youth and families we have seen in these 10 weeks an increased number of cases of depression and high levels of stress and anxiety in our youth and their families. Parents are worried about their rent, employment, food and basic needs. Most of our students have accepted that they won’t have a graduation ceremony but are worried about their immediate future, internships and summer jobs potentially lost. Our case managers continue to provide emotional support as well as practical every day assistance to help mitigate stressors.

What our HELP looks like for youth and families is weekly wellness checks inclusive of needs assessments, education of COVID-19 resources and information, and linkages to resources. For those in need of more support we offer intensive case management services connecting families to additional resources, assistance with our

program homework assignments or school work, education on alcohol and other drugs, legal awareness, parenting skills and family communication. For one family our support may mean they learn to be er communicate with their children and for another family they may access resources that significantly help their situation.

What our INNOVATION looks like during these pandemic times is the creation of cutting-edge diversion, health and educational programming in virtual settings. Like other nonprofits, we are unable to provide our in-person diversion, health and educational programs that have been proven so effective over numerous years with thousands of participants. We have quickly regrouped providing virtual educational workshops for our college prep students. We are working with our law enforcement partners to get our diversion programs online and our state educational partners to go virtual with our youth health education classes. Additionally, we are preparing to re-open our doors when safety permits following CDC guidelines with COVID-19 screening questionnaires, masks, social distancing, cleanliness and other safety protocols.

What our IMMEDIATE feet on the ground looks like is providing food and immediate essentials to our youth and their families through food drives and grocery gift card support. Each month we provide over 100 families support with food drives and daily we provide financial support through our pandemic relief gift card program. In just 10 weeks we have disbursed over $25,000 in food and gift cards to over 500 youth and their families. We are grateful for our partnership with Northgate Markets for their par al matching on gift cards and allowing us to purchase food in bulk and to our Board of Directors for their kind and fast response to our needs and to our faithful donors who continue to provide donations that keep these tremendous efforts going. For one family our support may mean they have food on their table for weeks and for another family it may free up funds to pay other bills. Families receiving food and gift cards are expressing their gratefulness and how appreciative they are for this support and kindness at a me when they need it the most.

Our next Food Drives will be held June 9th & 23rd and will provide for over 100 families. Your donation will make a difference in the lives of our youth and their families and help us to continue our mission to Empower Youth to Make Positive Choices! Our offices are open Monday through Thursday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm to drop off donations or donate funds directly and we will do the shopping.