"When schools first closed for the COVID-19 pandemic, I couldn’t even begin to understand how I, as a mentor, could reach out and help our students effectively. We’re usually very hands on with the students we mentor and this already sounded very far fetched and even impossible.
The first few days the school focused on planning. Planning food preparations, educational packets and everything else in between. That's when I decided to start going on food delivery with the school staff, and just take it one step at a time. Along the bus routes, I was able to start interacting with my students immediately.
They’re first questions when they would see me is "How am I going to get help?", or they would ask if they could call me. That's when I realized that I didn’t need a big plan to help, I just needed to reach out any way possible to them and let them know we’re still here.
Over the next few days, we started calling, messaging, and reaching out through social media to make sure that we contacted as many of our students as we could. We made sure they had our information and let them know that we were here for them for whatever they needed. Who knew that they would actually take us up on that offer and not run away from what we were offering?
I woke up the next morning to several texts and social media messages from students. Some of them were asking for help regarding credit recovery, but the majority of the messages were just check-ins. Seeing the overwhelming response made us realize the possible impact we could still have on their lives.
We now talk to our students through FaceTime, social media chat, phones calls and even a couple times we've interacted through Zoom with a group of Seniors. We’ve been able to make sure they're okay academically but also physically, emotionally and mentally okay during this trying time.
Two students (brothers) lost their dad during this time to a drug overdose and it was hard to not be able to go to them physically. But connecting with them with FaceTime, we were able to assess the situation and see how we could help. Although they initially denied needing anything, they later reached out about needing groceries since they are pretty much independent in the situation they live in. I was able to get groceries and drop them off in front of their house and then set up a way for them to receive food and supplies they would need to get through this. I’m thankful that they knew they could reach out to us and that we were able to help.
Being at home is sometimes the worst thing for kids who live in undesirable situations. My hope is that knowing we're here for them, will help in some small way."