Like many nonprofits across the Commonwealth and the country, Gwen’s Girls is working to meet the needs of those hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Its prevention, intervention and advocacy services are needed now more than ever. The inequities that girls and families face daily are magnified as a result of this pandemic. Necessities such as food, shelter and safety are an ongoing need even at the best of times. Now, families are even more vulnerable as the pandemic unfolds.
When the crisis hit, Gwen’s Girls developed and implemented a COVID-19 intervention plan. Staff contacted more than 100 families to assess their needs for food, essential toiletries, childcare, transportation, academic support and technology. Additionally, Gwen’s Girls supported children who were not enrolled in the program but faced food insecurity. The agency is committed to the belief that we are ONE Pittsburgh and will survive this global pandemic together.
Gwen’s Girls is serving families in a double crisis–COVID-19 and anti-Black violence–by delivering food and essential items. Each week, the team provides hundreds of families, including both participants and their neighbors, with the supplies they need to get through this tough time. With the help of partners such as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the agency is able to help combat food insecurity and conduct well visits. Through a partnership with the American Heart Association and the Farmers to Families program – Monteverde’s Inc., they’ve also been able to distribute fresh fruit and vegetables (80 boxes per week) to families.
Gwen’s Girls’ interactions with the community follows the Sanctuary® model, a blueprint for clinical and organizational change which, at its core, promotes safety and recovery from adversity through the active creation of a trauma-informed community. As part of this model, all girls and staff developed safety plans. Safety plans include things one can do when feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, including ways to recognize emotions and focus on the present.
To prevent COVID-19 and summer learning loss, Gwen’s Girls is supporting participants’ education by offering academic support coaches. The agency hired community members, educators, college students and professionals to provided virtual individual and group tutoring sessions. Recognizing this learning loss has the potential to negatively impact all youth in our community, they are offering this FREE opportunity to ANY student in grades k-12 in Allegheny County. Priority has been given to current Gwen’s Girls participants, youth/families involved in Black Girls Equity Alliance (BGEA)-affiliated programs, youth involved in out-of-school-time programs, and youth in congregate and foster care. The academic coaches cover all core subjects as well as early childhood reading and math, intensive academic support for students with IEPs, and post-secondary support with SAT/ACT prep and college application assistance. They also support the learning needs of English as a Second Language (ESL) students. This initiative will continue through the summer and the 2020-21 school year.
Gwen’s Girls is also pleased to announce that it is offering virtual summer enrichment camps via the Zoom platform. June 29, 2020 will be the start of 2-week virtual camps that are free of charge and open to children ages 8-12 who live in Allegheny County. These virtual camps will engage children in fun and stimulating activities that include learning coding skills through Minecraft, sharpening problem-solving skills through hands-on science experiments, dance and summer reading.
→ bit.ly/GGVirtualSummerCamp or CLICK HERE