Mission Critical—Serving Our Children and Families During the COVID-19 Crisis
Mercy Home is taking action to help keep our community safe and healthy while continuing to provide therapeutic and tangible support to youth and families we serve.
The families of our young people, who often live on the margins of financial stability during the best of times, have been hit particularly hard by the economic fallout from this crisis. And providing healing for families is a core component of our mission to save young lives. That’s why our staff is assessing the array of critical needs that these families have right now, such as food and household items, financial assistance, benefits enrollment, and therapeutic support, and then meeting those needs in new ways.
We are reaching out to youth and families who are connected to Mercy Home through all of our programs to help them weather this storm. Patrick Needham, Mercy Home’s Director of Planning and Evaluation, is overseeing this expanded service.
“I am helping all the leaders in different program areas – residential, mentoring, admissions, and aftercare – to gather information about how families are being affected by the crisis,” Needham said. “With that information, I’m coordinating all the different supports that are going out.” Needham sees this work as part of Mercy Home’s mission and as faith in action.
“As Father Scott put it, this is our extended family,” he said. “Everything is changing right now, so we need to change the way we support people. We’re adapting the ways that we can support them based on what the needs are.”
That ability to adapt is due in large part to the support of donors close to home and across the country who provide Mercy Home with 99.6% of the resources we need to operate. Thanks to those who support our work throughout the year and to those who are stepping up in a variety of ways during this crisis, we can meet the most critical needs while also operating in the era of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. That includes partnerships with businesses and other organizations who can provide the things our families need.
Mario Tamayo, Manager of Youth Programs Operations, is tasked with facilitating the delivery of tangible supports to families, like food, which is among the most urgent needs for many because of job loss or reduced income. Tamayo and other coworkers are working with wholesalers, grocers, and restaurants to help provide food for our kids and families.
This extended care, he says, “represents a transitioning of services needed by our youth and families, from on-site, to a mobile delivery system,” said Tamayo. “Whether it’s tangible goods like food or Chromebook laptops so our youth can do online homework and families can continue therapy sessions via video conferencing.”
During the first week, Tamayo’s team delivered food and hygiene items to over 50 families who were overjoyed to receive our help. We are thankful to our friends at Families Helping Families for their generous donation of food. Tamayo said that all the kids and families have been grateful, joyful, and hopeful as well.
“I sense that it eases the anxieties of our youth, as they realize that Mercy Home is still with them and still as committed as ever to support them,” he said.
As our helpers rolled out across the city, messages of thanks poured in from our kids and families.
“Having Mercy Home support me and my family through this uncertain time has been a tremendous amount of help,” said AfterCare member Monesha. “I want to say thank you to all of the wonderful people that are doing the upmost for the Mercy family.”
AfterCare member Shena wrote: “Dear Mercy Home staff and donors, on behalf on my little family and me, we want to express our thanks and gratitude. Thanks for blessing us with the food items. It was unexpected, much needed, and appreciated. Thanks for helping us and many more during this time.”
Juan Medina, Mercy Home’s Manager of Community Partnerships, has also helped deliver food and described the reactions of those we’ve been able to assist.
“One of our young adults had a big smile on his face when he saw my familiar face as he picked up his food,” said Medina. “He mentioned that he was recently furloughed from his job and was looking for a new job.” Medina delivered more food to a young man, Maurice, who smiled as he gathered his food.
“He said he and his grandmother were doing okay. I told him to call us if they needed anything,” Medina said. “He said our school resource coordinator checked in on him. All around his neighborhood you see empty lots.” On-the-ground facilitators like Medina and Tamayo both say that, when it comes to our kids and families, just seeing a familiar face from Mercy Home brings them comfort and hope.
“One of the kids I delivered food to said ‘Hey, I know you.’ He thanked me and wanted to walk closer to shake hands, but I stopped him,” Medina said. “He is living with a friend. They both came down to pick up the food.”
We are deeply grateful to those who make our support of children and families possible throughout the year. But we want to say a special thanks to all of those who are doing all they can to help in this urgent moment of need.