As we are adjusting to the current state of affairs, we want to keep our participants, volunteers, and supporters updated about what is going on at Inspiration Corporation. We will be posting weekly updates about our programs and any news we have to share. Included at the end of this post are the ways you can support us during this difficult time.
- All employees with non-essential in-person roles were sent home to work remotely.
- Apart from a small crew of part-time employees coming in to work for lunch-time food distribution, all part-time, hourly employees were sent home, with pay. We intend to keep paying our staff in accordance with their usual scheduled work as long as possible to ameliorate the impacts of the economic crash on our team.
- We are working to try to find solutions to moving our team to a remote work structure. Any support or guidance in utilizing the Office 365 platform to quickly get our team up to speed would be appreciated.
- Following the Governor’s order to close all bars and restaurants we made the difficult decision to close meals services at Inspiration Cafe in Uptown. We understand that many of our participants are in the highest-risk categories for COVID-19 due to their age and underlying health conditions and wanted to put their safety first.
- We began distributing food to-go on Monday the 16th for breakfast and dinner, and notified participants on our response.
- All volunteer shifts have been canceled to reduce the number of individuals passing through the space.
- Beginning on Tuesday the 17th we began handing out food boxes over the lunch hour, which we plan to do 7-days per week from now on. The food box contains one hot meal made by Café staff, and one cold meal for participants to carry with them.
- Our Meals Coordinator is checking in with participants as they arrive to monitor mental and physical health and ensure that individuals know what resources might be available to them.
Foodservice Training program
- Immediately following the Governor’s order, we closed operations at Inspiration Kitchens for our catering and restaurant business.
- Students in the program expressed concerns with continuing to attend classes, and following guidance to increase social distancing we decided to suspend operations of the program.
- All students who were within one week of scheduled graduation were graduated early. All other students were sent home. We are working on providing them with online learning activities through custom-made cooking demonstration videos produced at home by our chef trainers to keep them motivated and working on skills.
- Case managers are calling students and recent graduates to see how we can best support them as the restaurant and hospitality industry have been affected greatly.
- At this time, we are exploring distributing transportation support, resource referrals, and possibly small cash grants.
Housing Services program
- Case managers are calling participants in our programs to check in weekly. We are working on a triage mode, directing the most resources to the most vulnerable participants, determined by disability, age, and other risk factors.
- Our highest concerns are ensuring that people are maintain housing, have access to medication, and have a plan in place to receive medical care should the need arise.
- We have 16 households in our programs who had planned to end their leases at the end of the March. Most of these households were planning to move into other stable housing. We are working directly with tenants and landlords to determine if we can extend leases through April as an emergency response.
- We are balancing our desire to assist participants with things like doctor visits and grocery purchase with an abundance of caution of not having our case managers become disease vectors. We will continue to update our stakeholders on how we are managing these conflicting forces.
Homeless Outreach Services
- Our outreach worker is conducting similar activities, contacting her participants on a weekly or daily basis by phone.
- Many outreach participants have significant histories of social isolation, and we are worried about mental health issues related to self-quarantine and social distancing. Our case manager is working both with current participants and those recently placed in housing to provide social and emotional support.
Jericho Scholars program
- We have received word that all vocational programs have suspended operations.
- The City Colleges have moved to an online-only curriculum. At this time, it appears that only courses previously offered online are eligible to enroll in, and are checking in with scholars to see how their planned course loads will be affected.
How to support our work
- We have a dire and continuing need for cash contributions to keep our workforce employed. More than anything else, unrestricted contributions will ensure that our agency is able to survive this period with services intact. Donate online or contact Hallie Witmer, Development Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In-kind contributions to support our meals activities will be essential. Donations of ingredients for cold lunches (typical sack lunch items) would be helpful during this period. Due to risk of contamination, we’re in need of ingredients in their original packaging such as bread, lunch meat, and snacks for distribution.
- Because many of our suppliers are no longer providing donated items, our food and supply costs are likely to increase over the remainder of the year. Donations such as plastic cutlery and shelf-stable items (including canned goods, boxed dessert mixes, powdered and concentrated drink mixes, rice, pasta, beans, etc.) would be helpful. For more information, please reach out to Damien Turner, Cafe Kitchen Manager, at email@example.com.
- Based on our findings from surveys with participants we may have more specific asks soon. We will plan to update our blog weekly with information on programming changes and urgent needs.