(Guest blog by LBCF Community Impact Fund Grantee, The Salvation Army Long Beach Corps Community Center, written by Jennifer Manning, MSC, Foundations Manager)
COVID-19 has impacted our youth programming at Long Beach Corps. Due to public health measures, the after-school Homework Club was put on hold. However, as children have been attending “school” virtually this academic year and in response to the need for families who cannot efficiently “school” from home, whether because of jobs, lack of space/WIFI access, or lack of a family member who can assist the student, our Long Beach Corps launched the Distance Learning Assistance program in the Fall for children, which will continue through January 2021.
The program provides up to 50 disadvantaged children with the support and tools needed to successfully do online schooling and to further their reading skills in a safe and healthy environment working parents can trust. Funding from the Long Beach Community Foundation Community Impact Fund has been vital in launching this much needed program. The funds were used for general support of the program and for the purchase of basic program essentials such as snacks, PPE supplies, art and crafts supplies, printing supplies, paper supplies, laminated items, and toy prizes as rewards for completion of homework and keeping masks on.
In early January 2021, we received a call from a Mann Elementary counselor. She knew of a family with a kindergartener and a 2nd grader who were living and trying to do online school in their car, where their cellphone or tablet kept running out of battery and they struggled with staying connected to a hotspot. The counselor asked if there was space for them in our Distance Learning Assistance program. Our Community Programs Director talked to the mom and they started attending the program within a week’s time. We also connected them to our Social Services to ensure they had food on a regular basis, as well as other resources. Additionally, we continued to check if they were indeed sleeping in their car at night or bouncing between friends’ houses. If they were sleeping in their car, we paid for them to stay in a local hotel.
From our Distance Learning program last Fall semester, we learned that every kid has a different schedule, Chromebooks are difficult to deal with, that children are resilient, and they will make it through this difficult crisis. But even when kids physically return to school, we will need to provide extra “catch up” programming during the Summer and into the next school year. Our Long Beach Corps is anxiously waiting for the new gymnasium to be completed by the end of February. We are looking forward to being able to have a space for the kids run around and get their wiggles out! Additionally, we appreciate our educators so much and want to support schools, once they are back in session, in helping the lower-income students “catch up.”
We are likewise excited to share a Press-Telegram article about our Distance Learning program and the work we do in the Long Beach community, as well as our Instagram post where we shared the Long Beach Community Foundation’s generous grant:
Many thanks once again for your generous support and partnership!