The shutdown changed everything. I was tasked with shifting face to face case management services to remote services. I knew that this would be a challenge for me and my team because we had to quickly change how we worked without the in-person connection that is crucial. But we knew the importance of continuing to support our most vulnerable families. So, we shifted the focus of our weekly check-ins, sharing updates on MEND’s services and helping our families figure out how to obtain the additional financial assistance they needed.
The families all faced the same challenges and struggles. They were concerned about their health and financial security. Out of work, they were once again afraid of what the future held in store for them. And like millions of Americans they were faced with a brand new concern: homeschooling their children. They worried: “How can I do this without a formal education?” My interns and I found ourselves talking through these fears and encouraging our families to continue to work toward their goals. And there was also personal anxiety; as we struggled with this new reality, we found that we missed our own families and friends.
Over the months we have all adjusted. The program year was scheduled to end in May 2020. So, it was hard on everyone – postponing the graduation party, saying goodbye to my amazing interns over video conference, not knowing when we would be able to reunite in person. But our work continues with every conversation, every check-in to see how clients are doing, and every word of hope to lift discouraged spirits.