To say that 2020 was an interesting year would be an understatement. Literally everyone reading this report had the same experience and understands the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on how we work, learn, and interact one with another. None of us would have ever thought we would be called to serve our neighbors through a global pandemic. But, courageous leaders continue serving even during difficult situations. After all, poverty does not wait on a pandemic.
When Governor DeWine issued the Stay-At-Home order in March of 2020, we quickly pivoted and adjusted our workshop training to be delivered on a virtual platform. What we learned is that the digital divide is real, and that residents of underserved neighbors lacked access to affordable, stable internet service. During this time, much to our regret, even while offering training in a Zoom classroom, nearly 50 of our neighbors who desired to engage in our services were unable to do so because of a lack of wifi access, an electronic device, or both.
So, to continue to meet the need, we opened our classroom learning back up late in June following the CDC and Ohio Department of Health guidelines. We have been holding classes at two of our three learning centers since June, even though we had starts and stops due to our own bouts with COVID and quarantines. And our third location is opening back up to the public next month, and we are anxious to get back into that neighborhood to serve the community. Yes, we had to cut class sizes to allow for social distancing. Yes, we require masks and take temperatures at the door. And, yes we have consumed gallons of handsantizer. Still we perservered
On that note, we want to thank the Human Services Chamber for coninuously advocating for organizations like ours in central Ohio. Their efforts resulted in literally gallons of handsanitzer and hundreds of face masks. This allowed us to go back into our learning centers, and serve the neighbors we love. We are als thankful to the City of Columbus and The Columbus Foundation for providing ways for us to be able to pivot quickly, and continue to serve our Members. We needed things like cameras for our laptops. Some of our computer equipment was so old that it wouldn't even support virual meetings. These organizations helped us shore up our systems so we could continue to serve without any gaps.
Most importantly, Columbus Works Members kept moving forward. Yes, it was difficult. Working parents struggled with difficult decisions in the midst of childcar and school closures. Yet, they leaned in even more closely to their Columbus Works Coaches. We referred more Members of mental health care, discovered personal needs and started our house warming basket iniative, provided more food and clothing than ever before, and still our Members kept moving forward. Poverty does not pause for a pandemic. Rather a crisis like COVID exacerbates the trauma and struggle of poverty. So we were compelled even more than before, to continue to serve our Members; and they kept moving forward. Their determination inspired us. It will inspire you, too!
~ Beth, Art, Katrina, Kela, Seth, Eric, and Scott
The team at Columbus Works, Inc.