With COVID-19 infecting more than just our headlines, concern amongst the community is rising exponentially. In the same fashion, we're seeing a proportionate rise in the need of those in our community. As agencies, schools, and businesses shut down, Connected Community Schools continues to head up its boot-on-the-ground, full-steam-ahead Community Response Team, and we're asking you to join.
It Takes a Community
Our Connected Community School referral system, where struggling students and families are connected to needed resources, remain open with the CCS team on call to assist and support wherever possible in al of our connected districts (Rome, Dolgeville, Waterville, and Town of Webb).
Additionally, community members in our schools are encouraged to use the Response Team helpline or reach out on the Connected Community Schools Facebook page. As of Thursday, March 26th, 2020, our Community Response Team Help Line has assisted and triaged over 750 phone calls from within our Connected Community.
To address food insecurity in Rome, the original plan was for CCS to operate two food pantries, with possibility for a third location, right in the elementary schools, and run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while schools were out. Families would be able to go every other week, in addition to getting daily grab and go meals from the district's Food Service Program. With the help of countless school and community members, the CCS crew set up the pantry sites and prepared the food bundles for families in both Staley and Gansevoort elementary schools. Precautionary measures were in place to ensure the safety of both the team and the community - food packages would be placed one at a time outside the door where the family would then approach to pick it up and the process would repeat.
Day one of food hand out came, and before 11:00, the Staley site was out of food and team members were running back and forth to Gansevoort to replenish their supply. By the end of the day, after only 4 hours, over 1000 families were served, amounting to over 12,000 pounds of food, completely wiping out both pantries. To give some perspective, our holiday initiative handed out a comparable amount of food after a full week of serving families.
After regrouping, a new plan was devised and enacted to help maintain sustainability: the team, with the help and support of volunteers from both the community and the district, is now running one food pantry out, of Gansevoort Elementary. As of Thursday March 26, over 1400 families have been given food assistance.
In our Brothertown Connected Community Schools location, at the Waterville CSD, our Community Response Team will be bringing a FOOD DROP to the WCS Jr/Sr High School on Tuesday March 31 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Food will be distributed to families in the area. These food bags will include meat, easy to make meals, fresh produce and dairy products, and will be distributed by our CCS Response Team and area volunteers. This donation was made possible by the Rome Alliance for Education and Safe Schools Mohawk Valley with Brothertown Connected Community School. We are expecting to assist over 300 families.
For both locations, assistance is not limited to families of students enrolled at those schools. There are no eligibility qualifications or identification needed.
How You Can Help:
Being in the thick of it, seeing not only the need first hand, but also the worry, the looks of defeat, the rushed urgency of a concerned parent working to ensure their children are fed, the panic of a previously stable but now unemployed community member - this has shown, loud and clear, that no matter how difficult, we must keep going.
We've been lucky so far to receive donations from compassionate teachers and families, and our gratitude for those who continue to step forward to offer assistance can never be fully expressed. But to continue serving the community at the capacity it needs, and this continues to rise, we need help. Every little bit counts and goes directly toward the purchase of food and household/hygiene products given to those in need. Thank you so much, and remember, #WeAreConnected
“We will get through this as a Community”