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The River Center: Our COVID Response

by | Apr 23, 2020 | 2020, Archived Posts, Blog, Community, Newspaper Column, View All Services

Grouping looking at laptop screen together

This is going to be an update about what The River Center Family and Community Resource Center is doing right now. I will be quite honest, I don’t have it in me to give you a perky, fun, observation on living in this new normal. I just need to tell you what my incredibly hard working staff are doing from their kitchen tables, the corner of their bedrooms, from their car in the driveway of someone with decent internet.

They are connecting with individuals and families who need support, answers, and diapers. In the last week we have had an increase of 44 % in the number of families to whom we are providing intensive family support. That support used to involve weekly or bi-weekly visits with the family in their homes. It now involves Facetime chats, phone calls, texting. Sometimes several phone chats a day, many times over an hour each call. We are checking on their needs, their well-being, and their children. We are making sure they have what they need, finding sources for groceries, formula, diapers.

Our parent educators have learned how to continue all our parenting groups using the Zoom platform. How to set up a meeting, how to invite participants, how to share the screen. How to help participants figure out the technology. Have I ever explained to you that none of our staff are IT experts? Some are better than others and we are grateful. As with everyone working or learning from home right now, we are all learning the limitations of the worldwide web we call our internet connection. I tried five times to rejoin a meeting of statewide participants and I finally gave up close to tears. I will never complain again about driving to Concord for a meeting.

The staff and I have met numerous times to brainstorm creative ways we can support individuals and families. Staff are videoing their children doing crafts that we are sharing on our FaceBook page. We have started two new parenting groups, Coffee and Kindness, for parents of preschoolers needing some adult input. The other is for parents of 10-14 year olds to address their unique needs with middle school students at this time.

Nisa, the free tax program coordinator, has been exploring ways to continue to offer tax preparation remotely. We have finally received word from the IRS of an approved plan which she is rolling out. Please see our website for details.

I asked Ed Walker, Laura Gingras and Corinne Chronopoulus to join our March Eastern Monadnock Provider Network meeting on Zoom with over 35 participants. Getting current, local, correct information on COVID-19 is so important as well as understanding where the gaps in services to our community may exist and how to fill them.

We continue to check and respond to the voicemails from our 924-6800 line and all emails. We have updated our website with current information and resources relevant during COVID-19.

The Board is meeting more often during this time to stay informed and ensure that the organization’s finances and programs are on mission. Our volunteers continue to support the work of the staff, particularly our tax and wood bank volunteers. Thank you all!

We are still here for you. If you, or someone you know, needs support or resources, please give us a call at 924-6800 or contact us at info@rivercenter.us. Check out www.factbook.rivercenter.us for a listing of local community resources. And remember that you can call 211, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for connection with help and resources statewide.

Speaking of all the wonderful staff, volunteers and board of The River Center, I thank them for organizing a surprise drive-by parade on March 29 to celebrate my 10th anniversary as Executive Director of The River Center. I am so grateful to work with them all. They really care about this community. They really care about you and your family.

Stay well.

Margaret Nelson

Executive Director

mnelson@rivercenter.us

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