An Update from the Ada Jenkins Center
It’s hard to imagine that our world felt “normal” only a few short weeks ago. In the time since, we all have been jolted into a new reality of skyrocketing unemployment, stay-at-home orders, and food scarcities. Those of us who worked at the Ada Jenkins Center at the height of the 2008 recession are especially sensitive to the weeks ahead: we know just how bad things can get for the families in our community.
We’re doing everything in our power to stay in balance, remaining as nimble as possible to assist our families during this time.
I’m incredibly proud of our team, which is still hard at work even as our day-to-day responsibilities have changed — and continue to change — in response to the COVID-19 crisis:
Our Food Pantry transitioned to a drive-through system, and starting this week, in accordance with Loaves & Fishes guidelines, will be operating a weekly mobile food pantry from our parking lot, serving up to 300 families each week.
Each weekday, volunteers are distributing meals (breakfast/lunch) packed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. This originally was implemented as a drive-through system; however, many families — some undocumented — have told us they are concerned about leaving their houses in the wake of the “stay at home” order, so we have begun delivery as well.
The Education Team worked non-stop to get our students connected online, loaning 14 of our LEARNWorks laptops — equipped with cameras and microphones — to our families. They loaned internet “hot spots” to two families while they’re getting their free cable service up and running — and provided tech support for another ten families who brought their own devices to Ada Jenkins Center for troubleshooting. They also navigated the nuances of Google Classroom, often communicating in Spanish to families with little-to-no technology experience.
Our Coordinated Services Specialists are staying in touch with our client-partners via telephone to learn about their changing needs. Our Eligibility Specialist has compiled a resource guide for our client-partners that is updated regularly, as area services adjust their hours and operations. We are in the process of creating an Online Eligibility Form so we may serve more families, more quickly.
The Workforce Development staff are staying in touch with area employers to learn of any employment opportunities that might exist. Alongside our Coordinated Service Specialists, they also helped move our second Hope to Home resident — a cancer survivor — into her new home a week early, just prior to the Mecklenburg County “stay at home” order.
The Medical team has begun training to implement telemedicine and an electronic medical records program. The Dental team has reached out to our dentist partners to see who might be willing to treat, in their offices, clients experiencing emergency dental needs.
Last, but certainly not least, YOU – the community – have been the wind beneath our wings. In the past 2-1/2 weeks, nearly 70 new volunteers have joined our Standby Volunteers list, stepping in when our older volunteers needed to stay home. And more than 250 donors have contributed to our Critical Assistance Fund, to help our families with emergency expenses that they haven’t been able to secure elsewhere.
We’ll continue to update you via email and social media on the Ada Jenkins Center’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for being so incredibly supportive of us, and our community, during this difficult time.
Georgia Krueger, Executive Director