Last spring we worked quickly to adapt our programming in order to continue meeting the needs of our community amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
We found new ways to connect throughout all of our program areas, from virtual cooking classes and story time, pen pals, special deliveries of activity bags, and more. We were able to welcome back young people for in-person programming during the summer, with our Child Development Center (CDC) opening in mid-June and our Youth Development Program (YDP) with an adjusted schedule in July.
School age children observed social distancing measures to ensure their safety, including wearing masks and small group sizes. Our building was once again lled with the sounds of children learning to play music on keyboards, doing science experiments and creating art.
This year, instead of planning an end of summer Back-to-School Bash, we worked to determine how to best support families starting a new school year virtually, while at the same time ensuring their health and safety. We heard one thing loud and clear - parents and caregivers needed our help.
JCPS estimates that half of the households in Jefferson County do not have internet access to interact with teachers and complete assignments, and the school district has approximately 6,000 young people experiencing homelessness. And so, on August 25th, we welcomed 33 YDP members for full day Non- Traditional Instruction support. Together they represent 18 JCPS schools.
Our youth team is managing 33 different schedules and classroom requirements, helping kids with technology needs and providing homework help, all while staying in communication with teachers and parents. We asked them to step into the role of educator, coach, liaison and counselor, and they did so without knowing what the future would hold. It is impossible to overstate how important they are to our kids.
As you may imagine, we saw a significant and immediate increase in need around food security. In just the first month, our emergency food bank provided boxes of healthy food to more than 100 households - a 19% increase compared to the previous year.
So much has changed during this time of tremendous need, but our vision remains the same as our last 124 years - breaking the cycle of poverty for our children and families.
We have no way of knowing what the future holds, but for now we are focusing on ways to safely support our members during the upcoming holiday season and throughout the winter months. Thank you for the important role you play in our shared success. We couldn’t do it without you.