Joining Forces to Combat COVID-19
Joining Forces to Combat COVID-19
There is no question as to who the first responders have been during this global crisis — our doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are the real heroes, demonstrating outstanding courage and resolve in the face of an invisible and unpredictable foe, with shortages of accurate data and equipment hampering their efforts. As we collectively mount a defense against COVID-19 for our own health and the health of our community, we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who willingly place themselves in harm’s way to confront the virus.
Likewise, Boca Helping Hands could not continue to address the growing needs in our community without our own group of heroes: the BHH volunteers who keep showing up when we need them most. In our efforts to serve clients during this crisis, we realized that if our volunteers decided it was best for them to stay home, we would have little option but to shut down our operations. But new volunteers continue to call, and a dedicated group of our regular volunteers keep showing up. They’ve selflessly prepared and packaged meals, stocked our warehouse, packed pantry bags, and distributed both meals and pantry bags outside the BHH main facility in the Florida heat.
As BHH has renewed our focus on feeding those in need, our volunteers have rolled with the changes to our operations. We have temporarily transformed our Pantry Bag and Hot Lunch programs into drive-thru programs to protect the health of our clients, staff, and volunteers. Under this modified operation, we are now serving an average of 300 hot meals and distributing approximately 300 pantry bags per day. Unfortunately, we had to suspend our Job Training and Mentoring programs and other programs that require in-person contact (though we’re starting to offer some distance-learning alternatives in the interim). However, we’re still able to provide emergency funding to our Resource Center clients, now responding to requests via phone and email.
Our ongoing battle against the coronavirus has also reminded us of how connected we all are — sometimes to our detriment, but more often than not for our mutual benefit. With that lesson in mind, BHH has been working with other community service organizations to provide some of the vital “second-tier” responses to this global public health threat.
As a critical community resource, BHH quickly joined the highly coordinated and collaborative response to this “new normal.” The huge disruptions caused by stay-at-home orders and business and school closures have created sudden and unexpected hardships for many in our community. The United Way of Palm Beach County’s Hunger Relief Taskforce (which includes BHH among other pantries) became an instant repository of information on community needs and available resources, as well as on state and federal emergency initiatives. Our community partner The Addison stepped up to provide 100 additional delicious meals per day to feed our most vulnerable clients. At the same time, we have been able to share resources with local child service agencies that are feeding kids while they’re missing the free meals they normally receive at school. Being a part of this instinctive “good-neighborliness” is a refreshing antidote to the challenges we face during this time.
This issue of our newsletter highlights the vital role that our volunteers play in enabling BHH to serve our community. We never need a crisis to remind us of how fundamental our volunteers are to the success of our operations. But, this situation has given us another opportunity to express our deep gratitude to all those who dedicate their time and talents to serving those in need.