Mar 15, 2021

Staying The Course Mid-Pandemic

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:

  1. Rent Assistance – Ten families' landlords each month receive up to $800 from g2W, earmarked for said tenants' rent payments;
  2. 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;
  3. Phone & Internet Bills Assistance – Ten families a month have up to $60 of phone and internet bills covered by g2W;
  4. Mindfulness online sessions for younger elementary girls with Certified Mindfulness Trainer Lakiba Pittman, affiliated with Compassion Institute;
  5. Periodic grief and emotional online workshops and consultations for girls and their families, in collaboration with KARA Grief Support;
  6. 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:

  1. The Compassion Institute, for mindfulness trainings;
  2. CARA grief counseling, for consultation and workshops to help families address emotional challenges;
  3. Second Harvest Food Bank, for nutritional support;
  4. 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

Links:


Attachments:
Nov 5, 2020

A Distanced But Active Summer

Budding Photo-Documentarians
Budding Photo-Documentarians

Friends, Families, Supporters, Volunteers --

The general societal dislocation which we've seen through COVID has impacted no one more than the low-income to below-poverty "working poor" East Palo Alto families whom we were already serving with education & enrichment programming for their girls ages 6-25. Now we've redialed our program priorities, dictated by families' fundamental need to stay housed and solvent enough to afford life's necessities without having to live in public parks, their vehicles, or in overcrowded emergency shelters.

We wish that it weren't that way but it is. Not that our community isn't finding ways to adapt -- they are. Familial, public, faith-based, and cultural networks help connect people to opportunities & resources. But especially for low-wage, service-sector, & undocumented employment, these are often short-term or unstable. A family can be up one month and down the next . . . needless to say, what modest reserves people did have were used up by May 2020 or so.

And of course health care for our families remains a chancy commodity, despite laudable efforts made at the state and county levels to expand coverage to those most vulnerable.

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:

  1. Rent Assistance – Ten families' landlords each month receive up to $800 from g2W, earmarked for said tenants' rent payments;
  2. Nutritional Support – Emergency food availability is currently 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;
  3. Phone & Internet Bills Assistance – Ten families a month have up to $60 of phone and internet bills covered by g2W;
  4. Video Tutoring for Girls in Grades 3-8 – thanks to the educators & students at Kipp-Esparanza High School here in town, families with the computer power (which most have now) can get virtual facetime help for their elementary and middle-school girls’ academic assignments through this collaboration. Locally at least, elementary kids overall seem less well-served by the new online classrooms thus far;
  5. Videoconferencing Coaching & Financial Assistance – Ten families/month will have videoconferencing trainings via online chat, phone, etc., with bilingual specialists. We retain 10 iPads to loan or give to families without videoconferencing-capable computers. We’ll also expend up to $100/month total for peripherals, mainly digital cameras and microphones;
  6. Mindfulness online sessions for younger elementary girls with Certified Mindfulness Trainer Lakiba Pittman, affiliated with Compassion Institute;
  7. Periodic grief and emotional online workshops and consultations for girls and their families, in collaboration with KARA Grief Support;
  8. Online arts workshops for girls at various age-levels with Art For Well Beings.

 Thanks to the generosity of so many of you and of our other donors and institutional funders, we are keeping our heads above water. Ellie, our general coordinating staffperson and a g2W participating parent, has provided a level and dedication and stability to our staff situation which had otherwise been difficult. Gentrification has caused so many to move away, find higher wages, or go back to school over time. Ellie has lived in the community for many years, is bilingual, and has been our day-to-day liaison with families on the edge for over a year now and definitely since we began regular basic needs outreach to COVID-impacted families. Thanks Ellie! 

We don't do it alone. Current collaborators help us:

  1. The Compassion Institute, for mindfulness trainings;
  2. Kipp-Esparanza High School, students serve as online tutors for younger girls;
  3. CARA grief counseling, for consultation and workshops to help families address emotional challenges;
  4. Second Harvest Food Bank, for nutritional support;
  5. Art For Well Beings, online arts activities.

Our venerable Margaret Wright Fun & Fitness 5K Run/Walk will be virtual this year, with contestants meeting their fitness challenge at various times & places on November 7th. See the g2W website for more information on this East Palo Alto tradition. The Run has been a community-builder and the virtual version will, we hope, keep a part of that going. Signups are proceeding even in our socially-distanced era!

Our communities are resilient, and together we're finding ways to blunt the worst of COVID-19 at a time when other economic and cultural pressures are also staring our families in the face.

All of you -- donors, volunteers, staff, board members, parents -- make it happen, and have been for going on 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 girls & their families NOW, when they need it most!!

Homework's less social than it used to be now . .
Homework's less social than it used to be now . .
Girls thrive with culturally-reflective mentorship
Girls thrive with culturally-reflective mentorship
Online arts learning has replaced this for now.
Online arts learning has replaced this for now.

Links:

Jun 8, 2020

Springing Into Action on COVID-19

We look forward to getting back to this!
We look forward to getting back to this!

Hello to all supporters, parents, participants, volunteers, and allies generally. We hope that you and yours remain safe and healthy as we continue an uncertain path through the COVID-19 Pandemic and its evolving impacts.

After Winter Break we started up with a new round of what had been our School Year offerings -- digital storytelling, mindfulness, nutrition & fitness, ongoing support for transition-age young women, and monthly parenting support workshops. Our search for a new HQ and centralized program facility continued. We began a partnership with East Palo Alto's new Kipp-Esparanza High School to offer tutoring for our K-12 girls.

We were also in the thick of organizing our 9th Annual Community Fun & Fitness Run/Walk 5K, normally a nexus of volunteerism, health & fitness awareness, fundraising, and community solidarity-building. The Latinx Family Hikes series which was so popular several months earlier was coming together for 2020, pending the end of our rainy season.

We had close to 40 girls so-engaged, along with hundreds of community volunteers, staff, and families’ participation in the planning for the 5K Run/Walk. Family Hikes were to take up again in late April.

Needless to say however, by early March everything was suddenly in suspense, and of course Shelter-In-Place commenced on 03/17/20 here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Since that time, we hosted in late April and early May a phone- and video-conferencing series of one-on-ones with our girls’ families, asking what their basic needs were. Most of these low-income parents and guardians, so many of whom are immigrants, identified the following as critical:

  1.  Assistance with rent and other occupancy expenses. With the housing market the way that it is, there is fear that even a relatively minor problem with rent payment can lead to eviction once the temporary ban is lifted;
  2.  Nutritional support, for especially those low-income and largely immigrant workers who’ve lost their jobs through COVID-19, whether they qualify for unemployment insurance or not;
  3. Assistance in learning how to set up videoconferencing at home, both the hardware and the software/programs, especially now that K-12 formal education is now primarily being conducted online.

We have been directing unrestricted individual donor and other revenue into helping our SIP families as best we can with the three preceding items. Since April, we’ve distributed several $thousand in rent and utilities payments assistance; organized grocery pickups for our girls families with assistance from the Second Harvest Food Bank. Staff, along with culturally and linguistically-reflective volunteers, have remotely-coached families in setting up the videoconferencing capacity now required for everything from virtual family visits, to job-seeking, to online classes for school-age children.

We've applied to appropriate emergency COVID-19 funds which regional foundations and other donors have devised. But grants revenue alone won't allow us to provide the basic levels of support for our girls' families in-need. As it has always been, we depend upon the contributions of financial, volunteer, and in-kind resources from individuals to achieve the level of service which we do.Thanks again to all of you who have done so.

And please -- if you can at this time of economic instability -- consider making another gift to g2W. The stakes are so much higher now for the low-income girls and their families (see following link to discussion of low-income Peninsula families' vulnerabilities during COVID-19). Normal learning and development have an uphill battle when economic and social crisis strikes those with little to fall back upon.Your interest and support in the futures of our 'low-income but high-potential' girls and their families make the difference.

In the meantime, may you and yours remain safe & healthy. We will get through this.

The girls miss their arts activities . . .
The girls miss their arts activities . . .
We're planning a 'Virtual Run' for later this year
We're planning a 'Virtual Run' for later this year

Links:

 
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