When the world slowed down on March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Family Resources went on the fast track to incorporate the changes necessary to ensure staff and client health and safety.
The Beverly Jewel Wall Lovelace (BJWL) Out-of-School Time program and the preschool were temporarily closed during the crisis. The preschool reopened the last week of May and is now at full attendance. BJWL programming made significant adaptations through August and all 13 sites opened on August 31. The agency is proud to announce that three of its sites, Bedford Dwellings, Northview Heights and Hays Manor, will each house one of the newly formed Community Hubs, where students will receive virtual education and one-on-one support during the pandemic school closures.
Family Resources kept all program staff on payroll, even those employed in programs that were unable to operate during the pandemic, and awarded hazard pay to frontline staff in programs that were still operating.
In the midst of operating in the “new normal,” the horrific death of George Floyd and recognition of the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on communities of color raised national attention to racism. These incidents resonated personally with Family Resources, since 75% of the agency’s clients during the last fiscal year were Black, as are the majority of staff.
In an effort to address ongoing racial injustice, Family Resources’ “Anti-Racism Town Hall” was born. Staff gathered virtually on the morning of August 6th to openly and honestly discuss how racism affects them and to learn what it means to be “anti-racist.” The discussion was passionate, educational, heartwarming and heartbreaking. The agency will continue to hold these town halls as long as staff have the desire and courage to participate.
The agency’s greatest sense of accomplishment comes from the emotional outpouring of gratitude, the smiles on the faces of BJWL kids when they pick up their Grab and Go lunches, and the satisfaction (and relief) on the part of preschool teachers when the kids make it through a day of social distancing and mask wearing and still take home lessons they learned. And apparently clients are also pleased with the agency’s response; even with all the necessary changes and precautions, client satisfaction scores continue to be ranked A to A-.
As the pandemic continued and civil discord became a larger reality, Family Resources, as a trauma-informed agency, felt the need to relaunch “One Kind Word,” which is designed to encourage kind actions that make a positive difference for parents and caregivers dealing with a stressful situation. This is especially important during a time when children are more isolated at home and incidents of abuse and neglect might not be apparent. The agency is utilizing social media and other media platforms to get out the word; Family Resources Executive Director Aimee LeFevers has been a guest on numerous Pittsburgh radio talk shows to raise awareness of the seriousness of child abuse.