How the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley Respond to the Pandemic
The San Luis Valley Regional Council has valued its partnership over the past eighteen months with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley. El Pomar asked this grantee partner, who serves youth throughout the Valley, to provide some insights, in their own words, about how they are adapting their efforts to respond to changing needs in the region in light of the current COVID-19 crisis.
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A Note from Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley’s CEO, Aaron Miltenberger:
With school closures, temporary business closures and executive orders mandating restrictions on the size of groups, Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley are called to consider our continually evolving role in our communities. Our Board, staff and volunteers are committed now more than ever to fulfill our mission of ensuring that all children and youth, especially those who need us most, are offered opportunities to realize their full potential as responsible, caring and productive citizens of a richly diverse world. We are taking an overabundance of precaution in providing services to Club youth and their families who are being inadvertently affected by current circumstances. Additionally, we have extended our services to community youth and families who are not Club members. Our current front-line efforts include:
- Providing essential service workers with childcare for school-aged children and take-home meals.
- Increasing and continuing our USDA snack Program to provide two snacks daily.
- Doing census outreach with direct funding for families to take food from local restaurants.
- Doing family case management and connecting those that complete training with gift cards to local businesses that are struggling.
- Doing grocery and essential supplies delivery for those unable to get to stores.
- Providing a hand washing station for unsheltered community members.
- Creating online content and interacting with members with daily challenges for core programs.
To ensure we are reaching the most vulnerable members of our community, we are working directly with those most affected by reaching out to and listening to their immediate needs. We are proactively working to ensure essential services like hand-washing stations, shower facilities, internet access and food access are provided throughout the community at various times. We are individually calling the families of every member to ask about their needs, then fitting those needs with volunteers and resources we can mobilize. We are coordinating the SLV COVID-19 Neighborhood Response Team with over 925 members on Facebook and connecting valuable resources to those who need it most.
To ensure we are coordinating our activities with other organizations and partners in the community, we are working directly with our local family resource center and homelessness prevention program to get food and essential supplies to families in need. In addition, we work directly with community partners such as La Puente, a homelessness prevention program, and Alamosa Voices, a local community action group, to make certain our support is going where it is needed most. We are working with our local nursing students to provide support throughout the day to continue their supervision requirements. We are working with the local schools to coordinate free-WIFI access to those who do not have it at home. We are coordinating with all the other out-of-school time programs in the Valley to coordinate online postings and cross-post cyber activities to ensure that our young people have support consistently from 10am through 6pm. We are coordinating with our local producers of potatoes to distribute food and to support their workers.
Additionally, we are working with other funders who have shifted their outcomes at this time or given direct support to the BGCSLV as a trusted nonprofit that has historically served, and continues to serve, Colorado’s communities who experience the most inequities through periods of crisis. We are accessing the Emergency Childcare Collaborative to get funding to provide this needed service. Finally, we are leveraging our dollars locally to support small businesses that are scarce and struggling in rural Colorado.
Ultimately, we are doing what our community needs from our limited current resources because, as my grandfather used to say, "the right thing to do is the right thing to do."