By Kristi Hawthorne
The staff at the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside had to scramble and plan quickly to find alternative ways to reach their kids and families amidst the shutdown due to the Coronavirus. The management team started working remotely to provide virtual programming, and within just one week BGCO began offering virtual programs via Youtube featuring the following:
Monday: Every Monday Matters/Mindfulness
Tuesday: Artist Alley with Ms. Amy
Wednesday: Wacky Wednesday with Workout Willie (S.T.R.E.A.M.)
Thursday: Artist Alley with Ms. Amy
Friday: Foodie Friday with Ms. Rhonda
Rhonda Guaderrama, Director of Development, also said one of the critical tasks was to send out ‘constant contacts’ to parents informing them of important resources. Most of the families have lower incomes and any financial loss has devastating effects.
The start of the second week of the shutdown Rhonda said the BGCO team was routinely developing more ways to reach kids/families and providing more resources.
They received a SBA loan which enabled them to rehire some of the site directors as “virtual program specialists”. Staff developed a grade curriculum and contacted kids via Zoom and Google Hangout (with parental consent). The task of reaching 4,000 kids by either phone or email was also implemented. It was important for the staff to maintain contact with the kids’ wellbeing.
For much of the time, their food distribution has been limited to Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, with the help of the SBA loan, BGCO were able to hire the culinary arts staff to prepare snacks Monday, Wednesday and Friday so that kids with food insecurities can continue to get food and proper nutrition.
Rhonda said that feedback from parents and families has been largely positive and that they are grateful that someone cares about their children. The food program extends beyond “Club kids” and that they hope to feed children ages 0-17 who are in need.
Families do not need to leave the safety of their cars, as staff and volunteers have arranged curbside pickup! They also offer curbside pickup for those without cars while adhering to social distancing protocols as recommended by the CDC.
As events must go “virtual” during this time, the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside hosted a virtual Mother’s Day Pancake Breakfast. The idea was to celebrate Mother’s Day at home, while “attendees” could donate monetarily online and purchase “opportunity tickets”. Sponsorships were also available and proceeds enabled BGCO to continue their virtual programing, food distribution and fulfill their mission: To inspire, develop and enrich young people to reach their fullest potential as confident, responsible, caring members of society.