Toledo nonprofit Center of Hope Family Services is built on face-to-face interactions, as they help support vulnerable families and children in the city’s urban core. When COVID-19 forced this Northwest Ohio Impact Program participant to shut down their physical location, they knew they needed to reinvent their methods to serve their clients, who need their help now more than ever.
“Exposure to trauma comes in waves, so the first wave we experienced was fear,” said CEO Tracee Perryman, PhD. “Where will our clients go? Who will care for them? Then we moved into the desire for action. Because if people don’t have the basic safeguards in place, they aren’t going to be able to adhere to health guidelines and we will start seeing even more law enforcement and child welfare involvement in their lives.”
Almost immediately, the center pivoted to start offering mobile meal delivery, realizing many other organizations were offering free meals but could not deliver to those without reliable transportation. For clients deemed essential personnel, the center also began providing protective equipment to help minimize their exposure. So far, they have already distributed more than 200 masks and are preparing to make hundreds more.
“No matter the situation, we’ve stayed focused on the value Tracee brings and how Center of Hope can create new opportunities in the community.”
JumpStart Entrepreneur-in-Residence, NW Ohio
Next, staff began offering the service of collecting schoolwork and delivering it to student’s homes along with food for the whole family. And after realizing many parents do not have the necessary resources to educate their children at home, the center then began providing supplemental materials, including Chromebooks, and educational ideas along with their deliveries. Word of mouth reaction to these efforts has led to a developing relationship with several Michigan based employers to create a formal training program to help parents set up a successful learning environment at home.
“There are no easy answers right now,” said Perryman. “You just have to focus on addressing one issue at a time or else it becomes overwhelming. And luckily we have a wonderful network of funders and supporters who have helped us make these pivots.”
JumpStart’s Roy Hodge has worked as Perryman’s lead advisor during JumpStart’s Northwest Ohio Impact Program and appreciates her vision to keep moving forward and looking for new ways to help children and families.
“No matter the situation, we’ve stayed focused on the value Tracee brings and how Center of Hope can create new education and workforce development opportunities in the community,” said Hodge. “Stay tuned as Tracee has exciting plans to roll out more new programming for both children and adults in the near future.”
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