It is with great relief that we here at g2W -- and no doubt all of you reading this report -- note the rollout of COVID vaccinations and consequently the light at the end of the economic, social, and public-health tunnel which we've been reluctantly traveling in together.
But in the meantime, the situation remains serious and isn't going away tomorrow. You have no doubt heard that it may well be the end of this year or into next before we can return to pre-pandemic conditions. Formal education for children and youth is still a patchwork of online courses, phone calls, and email correspondence. Out-of-school youth development opportunities, along with general cultural and recreational offerings, continue to be constricted. Employment sources for our immigrant and low-income families remain limited, and the hurdles of day-to-day survival, which weren't easy before, have gotten taller and stayed there. A family can be up one month and down the next.
Given the situation, the services which we provide for 40 low-income to below-poverty families of girls include the following. We expect the individual recipient families to vary, as it has already, over time as the situation evolves, and as families take various actions to adapt & survive:
- Rent Assistance – Ten families' landlords each month receive up to $800 from g2W, earmarked for said tenants' rent payments;
- Nutritional Support – Emergency food availability has thus far been considerably better than at the pandemic’s outreak. But we’re prepared for that to change, and if so then ten families each month will receive up to $150.00 in local grocery gift cards or equivalents;
- Phone & Internet Bills Assistance – Ten families a month have up to $60 of phone and internet bills covered by g2W;
- Mindfulness online sessions for younger elementary girls with Certified Mindfulness Trainer Lakiba Pittman, affiliated with Compassion Institute;
- Periodic grief and emotional online workshops and consultations for girls and their families, in collaboration with KARA Grief Support;
- Online arts workshops for girls at various age-levels with Art For Well Beings.
But we're not stopping there. With 'regular (as 'regular' as it can be)' online schooling now having been in-place for a full semester and a half, we reviewed report cards last month for our served children and youth in grades 1-12 (mainly 1-8). No surprise, some kids are struggling to adapt to the online approach and need tutoring in English language arts and math, primarily. In fact, these subjects have always been at the core of our academic support efforts. We're reviewing candidates, including those from the education departments at regional universities who have had particular training in online tutoring methodologies. We will get this rolling before the Easter Break, and hope to continue, ongoing, until schools reopen in late 2021 or early 2022.
We mentioned that the need for structured, engaging activities for youth has remained and, if anything, grown among kids who are still largely locked-down by SIP.
Our response, facilitated by our longtime ally and Bay Area arts authority van Nguyen Stone, is to organize one- to two-month online multicultural dance and theater courses for both girls and boys (our girls-only focus is now on-hold while we help our families to weather this COVID storm):
Lisa Saunders will lead the four-week dance class series this spring. Ms. Saunders established the Bay Area's iconic Ethnic Arts Institute International (see following weblinks) and has trained extensively with advanced practitioners of traditional Hawai'ian, Latin, and African dance forms. Her teaching style has been described as an " . . . inimitable style and mastery of energetic repertoire, expressing an authentic voice." Lisa will have a natural fluency with the cultural diversity of the kids we're serving.
Pedro Rivas Lopez is helming our eight-week theater course. Mr. Lopez, an East Palo Alto resident, made his debut as a performer at the University of California Santa Cruz, and served as part of the leadership staff with Rainbow Theatre and the African American Theatre Arts Troupe. Mr. Lopez went on to found Arte Aqua Viva and uses his arts educational powers to uplift youth from marginalized backgrounds with a positive sense of their culture, history, and self-worth (see following weblinks).
We look forward to collaborating with Lisa and Pedro to help the youth whom we serve explore their performing arts potential and their cultural identities through these courses.
Clearly then, we don't do what we do alone. Other community partners, which have been with us since the start of the COVID Era or before, currently include:
- The Compassion Institute, for mindfulness trainings;
- CARA grief counseling, for consultation and workshops to help families address emotional challenges;
- Second Harvest Food Bank, for nutritional support;
- Art For Well Beings, online arts activities.
Our communities are resilient, and together we're finding ways to blunt the worst of COVID-19 at a time when other economic, social, and cultural challenges persist.
All of you -- donors, volunteers, staff, board members, parents -- make it happen, and have been for thirteen years now. THANKS AS ALWAYS, and those of you who can, please help to keep us going with a financial contribution. We'll use it to stabilize low-income and immigrant families NOW, when they need it most!!
With appreciation and in community,
Patricia Foster, Founder-Director