Agencies feeling impact of COVID

Published 9:25 pm Monday, December 7, 2020

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The Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center has been a much quieter place since March. And, that is cause for concern for Kaley Green, executive director of the Troy CAC and her staff.

“Because the kids are not in school, they are not around those they would feel secure in talking with about uncomfortable situations and also those who would report the possibility of abusive situations.  And, kids are at home more often with abusers and that is not good.”

Like many service agencies in Pike County and throughout the nation, the Child Advocacy Center is trying to adjust to the impact of the COVID pandemic, which has affected the country for nearly nine months now.

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Green said also many extracurricular activities at churches have been cancelled so that could limit the opportunities for children to get the word out that they are in harm’s way.

Because of the coronavirus, the Pike Regional CAC had to cancel its spring fundraising efforts.

“We have seen some hardships from that but people have been very gracious,” Green said. “We have had 26 of our kids ‘adopted’ and we are blessed by these sponsorships.”

Services at the CAC are provided free to all the kids and Green said those much-needed services will continue.

Donations to the Pike Regional CAC are always appreciated and especially during these difficult days.

Green said donations of snacks for the kids are very helpful as well as books, puzzles, art supplies and stuffed animals.

“Because of COVID-19, these items cannot be reused by the children so they have to be replaced,” Green said.

She expressed appreciation for the community’s continuing support that is helping make it possible to continue to provided services for children in abusive situations.

Hopes had been that, COVID-19 would come and go long before the ringing of the Salvation Army’s bells signaled the beginning of the Christmas season.

“We wish things were different but the virus is still here and our bells are ringing,” said Kim May, director of the Pike County Salvation Army Service Center. “The Red Kettle Campaign is our biggest annual fund raiser and we depend on it to help fund all of our programs. But, right now, we just don’t have enough bell ringers to man the Red Kettles. 

“We are lucky to have just enough bell ringers to ring at one door at Walmart during the week.”

Whether the Red Kettle Campaign extends to the Piggly Wiggly stores and Walgreen’s depends on volunteer bell ringers. The Brundidge Rotary Club rings at the Brundidge Piggly Wiggly so that is covered.

“Our ringers wear masks and gloves are stand away from the kettles,” May said. “We have hand sanitizer at all the stations and take every precaution. We have stools for sitting or ringers may bring their own chairs. We are doing everything possible to make ringing the bell safe for the ringers and those who support our Red Kettle campaign.”

There is also Kettle Pay for those who don’t handle change. A Red Kettle donation may be made by swiping a debit/credit card at the kettle site.

Donations may be mailed to the Pike County Salvation Army, P.O. Box 592, Troy, AL 36081.

“And all of the money raised stays through the Red Kettle campaign stay here at home. None of the money goes anywhere else.”   

Even in the midst of a pandemic, for Sav-A-Life in Troy, things are different but not too distant from normal.

Jane Ward, Sav-A-Life executive director, said, other than screening everybody, there have not been a lot of changes.

“Our donors are still donating and we are very appreciative of that,” Ward said. “We have our annual Sav-a-Life dinner in January but, we can’t see that far out with our planning. The Covid-19 numbers are increasing so we are looking at whether we can have the dinner with social distancing and masks and taking temperatures. Some of our donors may not come because they feel it’s too much of a risk and we understand that.”

Sav-A-Life is able to “see” its clients on the phone and also to do screenings on the phone.

“That’s a safety measure for us and for our clients as well,” Ward said. “They are able to stay home and the outcomes have been positive.”

Sav-a-Life has introduced Bright Course, which provides for the streaming of lessons or needs to the clients. By watching videos, the number of uses has increased as well as the benefits.”

The Christian Love Center is making the best of challenging situation, said Lawanda Bell, assistant director, said the staff is finding ways to educate the kids by turning the bad to good.

No one comes in the building without a mask and parents are not allowed beyond a Plexiglas shield or in the classrooms.

“We don’t want the kids to be afraid so we are finding ways to make things fun,” Bell said. “They wear ‘learning goggles’ and they really like that.”

All precautions are taken to keep the kids safe. Their temperatures taken three times a day. No food is allowed inside the center or to be taken out.

“Social distancing is maintained with the use of colors and the colors are also leaning tools,” Bell said. “The kids are washing their hands more often and we have our own germ/hand washing song. Our focus is on the positive side of COVID-19 and keeping everyone safe.”

The focus of many of the activities is the outdoors.

“The kids love to be outdoors and we are outside as often as possible,” Bell said. “We have plans for a butterfly garden and, hopefully, a house for our 50 chickens. We are going to be able to have our annual Day of Giving and we’ll have jackets and sweaters. But it will be outside. No one can come in the building

The Christian Love Center gets funding from the state and city and self-pay.

Bell said some parents opted to keep their children at home and that has had some effect on self-pay.

“We adjust and do the best we can with what we have,” Bell said. “We want to make sure that our kids are safe and that they have fun while they are learning.”

From the beginning of COVID-19, the Department of Human Resources employees in Troy have been declared first responders.

So, the DHR staff has been working non-stop to see that families are provided with the needed services.

“It has been hectic to say the least as we are working remotely,” said Patti Faircloth, director.  “There has been an increase in all areas of service. COVID-19 has completely changed how we provide services, so we are having to be creative in the different ways of providing services. “

Faircloth said DHR is accustomed to providing its services face-to-face and in the homes.

“Providing services by Zoom is very different from what we are accustomed to,” she said. “We are having to grab onto technology and that has been an adjustment for us. It’s is a completely different way of providing services but it is working.”

One very bright spot in the pandemic is the increase in the number of people what are donating to DHR.

“People are realizing that the needs are going to be greater this Christmas and are they want to do more,” Faircloth said. “We are so blessed with an increase in donations to help families in need at this time of year. More people are doing more and that is a blessing.”