Help us fight against the feelings and effects of isolation and build community from afar!
Isolation. It’s that dreadful feeling of being alone – alone in the world, alone with your thoughts – a pit in your stomach, echo of your voice, and tears in your eyes.
Isolation goes against our human nature, our ability to connect and engage in community as human beings. When individuals are consumed in isolation it affects mental health, the ability to maintain social contracts, and increases criminological risk factors.
At Micah, we support formerly and currently incarcerated individuals. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected these populations. Pre-pandemic we provided pro-social, in-person, engagements within correctional institutions and the community to support reintegration needs, value personal change, community collaboration, and accountability.
All of our programs have been adapted in order to encourage and abide by physical distancing protocols. In the community we have cancelled all in-person support circles, moving meetings to teleconference and video conference. In institutions, we have had to move from weekly visits to phone calls and letter writing.
On paper, these changes appear easy to implement and access. However, for our clients in the community, 43% have been laid off and this affects their ability to pay their phone bills, home internet – yet without these tools, communications with volunteers and staff cannot be maintained. In institutions, staff and volunteers do not have the option to phone an inmate like you would with a home phone. Calls must be made from the institution to the community, and limited phones are shared between all members within the institution. Letters take time to arrive, need to be processed and reviewed before they can enter and leave the institution. When someone is having a bad day, we may not hear about it for two weeks.
We are motivated to continue to provide rich, supportive, contact to all of our clients throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Yet, we are constantly having to adapt, review, and re-create programs; seek new, free, technology; and troubleshoot when personal funds become a barrier for our clients to contact their community supports.
Not only are our clients affected, but 37% of our volunteers have been laid off. Our volunteers provide weekly support for our clients - we recognize their personal challenges put additional stress on our volunteers. As an office, and restorative community, we want to be able to support them in any way we can as they have dedicated hours upon hours (in some cases years upon years) supporting us.
We cannot do this without your financial assistance. We have experienced a 20% decrease in our first quarter funding thus far. As COVID-19 continues to affect the globe, we anticipate donor and grant funding to continue to decrease. Our doors must remain open, and programs must be readily available, as the challenges our clients face do not end, rather increase exponentially alongside a pandemic.
For more information about our organization visit: themicahmission.org