The Mon Valley Initiative (MVI) is dedicated to helping families and individuals achieve stability and economic security, primarily by focusing on supporting unemployed and under-employed clients in job preparation, job search, financial coaching and education. At any time, these services are in great demand and support the overall community by increasing residents’ purchasing power and stabilizing the tax base. In today’s world of the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine and unprecedented unemployment rates, MVI’s services are truly lifesaving.
When MVI leadership came together to adjust their service delivery model to continue to meet the needs of the community during the COVID-19 crisis, they immediately thought about videos and social media. Quickly producing a video with a simple and compelling message of “We’re still here for you,” MVI provided a comforting voice to the Mon Valley community. They posted the video on social media channels and saw the views and shares skyrocket – 500 more hits than any other video they had ever posted!
The agency also took advantage of more foot traffic in the area, due to stay-at-home orders, and purchased new signage for the building with an aim to bring in more new clients. Additional changes have included helping clients without computer access at home to complete more applications and forms, such as applying for benefits and following up on stimulus funds, by spending much more time on the phone.
Recently, MVI created a video version of its orientation, employment coaching and financial coaching curricula, on an invitation-only YouTube channel. This was accomplished in collaboration with Neighborhood Allies and the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC). The new service format will allow clients to continue to move forward in their goals and be ready for employment opportunities when pandemic restrictions are reduced.
As MVI continues to adapt to meet clients’ needs, leadership is exploring how to open the offices safely. As April Hoover, Chief Financial Officer, stated, “We are looking at protocols and writing new regulations for business. We are not in a hurry; this is not a race we need to win. If people can access [us] online or on the phone, we do not need to put them at risk [with face-to-face interactions].” But in the meantime, the MVI team is busy continuing to support Mon Valley residents and innovating to meet the community’s needs.