The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed our way of life and caused a great deal of strain on our community. With unemployment reaching historic highs in just a couple of months, many households are concerned about their immediate financial future and ability to stay housed.
It has also impacted how agencies like Loaves & Fishes provide services when working from home. Before the pandemic, we had 40 volunteers a week working on our emergency assistance program. We now manage our detailed application and discernment process with two staff members and four volunteers. This dedicated group has maintained our effective model of preventing homelessness by collaborating and coordinating assistance with other organizations, government agencies, and faith communities so we can maximize assistance without the duplication of services.
We have developed a new collaboration with the social workers of School Districts 203 and 204, who have been focused on helping the struggling families of their students connect to community resources to address their needs. The social workers refer families needing financial assistance to Loaves & Fishes to complete our application process. The Loaves & Fishes funds, combined with funds raised by the Naperville Education Foundation and Indian Prairie Foundation, are providing the resources to keep families housed.
This collaboration has connected Loaves & Fishes with more families and has increased the average amount of an assistance package by 42% compared to the same period a year ago. A social worker from School District 203 told Loaves & Fishes, “Our entire school district, and all the social workers, are so incredibly grateful for your organization and the support you are providing.”
We are humbled by the efforts of so many individuals who are addressing the increasing needs of our neighbors and proud to be part of a community working together to address those needs.
Written by Mary Boulos, the Associate Director of CARES Programs at Loaves & Fishes Community Services. Contact her at email@example.com or visit www.loaves-fishes.org.
This post was originally published June, 2020 in Positively Naperville