Staff at The Oasis Project, the community and development division of Bible Center Church, knew the pandemic would create a new set of needs for the families and children they serve in Homewood. They were, however, unsure of what those needs would be.
In early March, staff of The Maker’s Clubhouse, The Oasis Project’s STEAM-focused educational program for school-aged youth, began making weekly wellness calls. By speaking to the families of the 114 program participants, staff learned there were major concerns around food insecurity and remote learning. This information guided The Oasis Project’s COVID-19 response.
The Oasis Project’s first goal was to find ways they could help combat food insecurity. One of the challenges faced by families was the inability to get to food distribution sites because of a lack of transportation. To meet the needs of those families, Bible Center Church and Homewood Children’s Village began a partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to become a food distribution center. Nearly 30,000 meals have been distributed to date.
Beyond the partnership with the Food Bank, Bible Center Church has provided almost 17,000 pounds of produce to the community through a partnership with Monteverde’s Produce and the American Heart Association. They have also partnered with the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank to distribute more than 20,000 diapers.
Supporting children with home learning was another priority in The Oasis Project’s coronavirus response. The Maker’s Clubhouse staff began offering tutoring through the Zoom platform to help students complete the instructional packets distributed by the Pittsburgh Public School District. Additionally, staff created videos of science experiments and engineering design challenges that used common household items and would be easy for students to replicate.
The Clubhouse continues to share resources on its website, including a calendar of daily science activities by grade and links to other educational resources by subject. Launch of their in-person summer camp, Green, STEAM & Play, is planned for the end of June.
Although the pandemic may have changed The Oasis Project’s daily operations and created new challenges, the organization continues to live up to its name by offering relief during difficult times.