May 6, 2020 | Comments Off on Building A Community – Building Resilience
Over the past few weeks, the mindset of the world has changed. Uncertainty has become a word used to describe almost every facet of life. Yet, during this time we cannot forget about those who are most vulnerable to unpredictable change. The biggest risks are for the kids at Alexander Youth Network, who may have discharges delayed, postponed family visits, limited interactions with classmates as well as counselors, therapists, and teachers vital to their recovery. Without these support systems and important connections, the kids at Alexander are at risk of going into crisis and losing their treatment progress.
However, during this time, our staff, our kids, and our families have had an astounding amount of support from the Alexander community – all dedicated to helping our kids find hope and healing.
The community surrounding Alexander Youth Network and Alexander Children’s Foundation has come together to not only support the kids but also their families. First, by supporting our staff, who are at the heart of what we do in caring for kids. The agency has taken every possible step to preserve jobs during this time of uncertainty, has increased pay for our direct service staff working in residential settings, and offered additional paid time off for any staff who might be diagnosed with COVID-19. We are also thankful to everyone who has contributed to the Staff Development Fund which supports the ongoing needs of our staff who are currently serving our kids.
We have seen an even stronger response on behalf of the children and families of Alexander. Our staff, donors, and volunteers are finding innovative ways to remain a continuous net of support, true to our model of care. Even though some of our services are virtual, our staff has been able to check in with our kids and families to provide additional support when needed to ensure the safety and stability of our kids’ lives outside of treatment.
Through the Greenspon Critical Needs Fund, the Alexander Children’s Foundation was able to assist a Beacon Hall Day Treatment family with the purchase of two months of a critical prescription medicine while the family obtained community supports in the wake of their job loss. This daily prescription is life-saving for the family and without it could have caused additional stress for the mom and child leading to a crisis or an unstable home environment. This critical needs fund also paid for an entire month’s phone bill for a parent to make sure their child still had access to day treatment services remotely. Without access to a working phone and Wi-Fi, she would not have been able to maintain the progress of her treatment at our Shelby Day Treatment program.
Transitioning to remote work or school has been the greatest need of our children and families. With limited technology resources, many of our families may only have one smartphone which makes staying connected to school and treatment an almost impossible struggle. Alexander has worked diligently to help our families get the resources they need to stay connected including supporting them with the internet, laptops, and phones when necessary. For one of our Multi-Systemic Therapy clients, the gift of a working phone and laptop has been life-changing.
Our therapist, Ame Frey, had been conducting regular therapy sessions by phone with a family in the Wilmington area – long before our official transition to telemedicine sessions. Due to a compromised immune system, the youth’s grandmother, who serves as the guardian, depended on telephone supports since a home or community-based visits were not always feasible. Meeting by phone was the most consistent option for the child and family team. Those sessions typically consisted of both the grandmother and child on the floor next to the outlet since their only phone worked if it was plugged in. Thanks to one of the many technology-based grants we have received over the past few weeks, Alexander was able to provide the grandmother with a working smartphone. Now, they can complete their therapy sessions with video, from any location, without worrying that the phone will die. The addition of a working laptop has allowed them to stay connected with school work, treatment, and more.
“Our lives have been changed from the support that Alexander has given us. The staff is not just here to do a job, but to care about people and care about their success.” said the child’s grandmother. Shortly after the grandmother shared these thoughts, the youth made sure the caseworker knew their life had truly been changed as a result.
Without our committed donors and dedicated community Alexander would not have been able to change this family’s life or other families within our network. Both the laptop and new phone were a part of a $5,000 donation on behalf of TIAA, one of our corporate partners. This is in addition to a $10,000 gift from the GEM Foundation and $15,000 from the Foundation For The Carolinas/ United Way COVID-19 Response Fund. These gifts have allowed the Alexander Children’s Foundation to purchase over 40 Chromebooks for the kids in our Charlotte Day Treatment program, connect many of our families in community-based programs with remote technologies, and support our day treatment teachers in finding new ways to connect with our students.
When our kids need it most, the Alexander community steps up to provide them with love and support. Our volunteers have switched to virtual sessions hosting library groups and bible study sessions during the week. We have also had over 250 donations of masks, cleaning supplies, and other in-kind items not including our weekly shipments from our Amazon Wish List. In a time when we are unsure of what the next day holds we have been able to count on the unwavering dedication of our Alexander community. Your support for our staff, kids, and families has been extraordinary and we thank you for your steadfast support.
Because of you, we have been able to maintain a sense of stability and safety for our kids which is integral to their healing.
You are helping build our Alexander community and most importantly helping build resilience.
Written by Emily Gordon and Kailtyn Coppadge.