The changing landscape brought on by CoronaVirus has been a challenge for so many people, businesses, and organizations. Mentoring Plus is no exception, and navigating this new landscape has taken monumental efforts from our team.
At its core, the program flourishes as a site-based, face-to-face mentoring program, and provides a loving, family-style atmosphere where youth and life coaches can come together. That doesn’t exactly make for an easy transition to this new online-only world we’re living in.
To make matters worse, the health scare and quarantine orders have created additional stresses for the youth and families that we serve. Some of our teens have suffered from a history of child abuse or neglect. Nationally, 68% of child abuse is committed by family members. So now there’s this situation where some young people are finding themselves “trapped” at home. No school, no part-time job, and no Mentoring Plus program to which they can escape. And this is on top of the more common stressors that most Americans are facing: Where will I get food and other groceries? How will I pay my rent or mortgage? When will things get back to normal?
The entire M+ team has stepped up to provide as much support as possible throughout this difficult season. From the board members to the volunteers and every staff member in between, the response has been significant. Program Director Robin Anderson quickly set up a private Facebook community for the youth, life coaches, and case managers, creating a fun and safe space where the M+ family could stay in touch with one another. The program’s family-style dinners were converted to delivery meals, packaged up and transported directly to the homes of our families. We added hygiene and other essentials to those deliveries, as well, turning our on-site resources into a mobile delivery service.
The case managers, in particular, have really stepped up. Staying in touch with the families has been more important than ever, so they’ve made extra phone calls, video calls, home visits, and anything else they can think of in order to keep the youth and their families healthy during this time. In many cases, they have been the frontline in protecting the M+ teens and serving M+ families. In uncertain times, it’s the case managers who have acted as beacons for the community, helping our neighbors to find some semblance of stability. All this, while also navigating their personal journeys through the crisis. They have families of their own. Their jobs, while not glamourous to begin with (Mentoring Plus, like many non-profit organizations, operates on a shoestring budget), have become more cumbersome while offering fewer benefits. And yet, they continue in the mission of empowering disadvantaged youth and their families.
Mentors are remaining active, with nearly 80% of them communicating with their teen multiple times a week. Board members have stepped up fundraising efforts to make up for canceled and postponed events. And our audience is staying engaged, with our social media activity reaching new heights over the past six weeks.
The world has changed. Mentoring Plus has changed, too. Every day we hear more about the “new normal,” and we’re pivoting to meet those new circumstances head-on. With our dedicated team, and with your help, Mentoring Plus will come away from this chapter stronger than before.