Our Mission Continues
It’s almost unbelievable to see how much has changed in the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, let alone in Columbus. So many businesses have shut their doors or adjusted so that they could still serve their customer/client base and maintain new safety standards. Catholic Social Services (CSS) is no different.
When Governor Mike DeWine stated that important services, such as social services, must continue on because so many people’s lives depend on them. We at CSS 100% agree and have taken every necessary step to make sure that our 14 programs still reach the 35,000 people across our 23 counties that need them while keeping all of our staff and clients safe.
This has included the building of a whole new remote infrastructure, one that allows our licensed social workers to do their jobs, keep clients’ information/data secure, and maintain HIPAA and privacy laws and standards. We had to purchase and configure 25 computers and 30 cell phones, refurbish some older laptops, get our servers safely into the cloud, deliver everything to multiple locations, set up new communication systems/training/troubleshooting, and develop all of the processes for everything to run efficiently. All of this has come at an unexpected large additional expense to the agency.
But, it is necessary for the vulnerable families and seniors who count on us. Our social workers are front line and have used these new tools to carry out their jobs with the same enthusiasm and professionalism that they bring to work every day. It’s amazing when you hear what our team has done to make sure that our vulnerable clients are OK, actions such as:
Calling each of our 3,000 seniors weekly to see if they are okay, ensuring they have their basic needs met (medicine, food, bills paid), seeing what else they may need, and reassuring them we are still here for them and they are not alone.
Continuing to run our Transportation program so that our clients still get to their dialysis, cancer treatments, or other life-sustaining non- emergency appointments.
Utilizing TeleHealth Technology for our mental health and case management clients to make sure care is being provided in a secure and HIPPA approved way.
Moving our food pantry services to a zero-contact process while serving more families. In one week, we served 700 additional meals compared to that many meals in one month. This area is now devastated with job loss in the service industries and we think these numbers of families needing food will continue to rise.
The Our Lady Guadalupe Center food pantry has served 201 more meals in the first week of the Pandemic and with the recent layoffs, anticipates that number to significantly increase. Providing virtual English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, legal assistance, and other resources at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center.
Creating a Central Ohio resource guide for our clients so they know they can rely on us as their trusted source to get help.
Staying connected to each client, each partner, and each staff. Not only do we want to be there for our clients, but we as an agency want to come out of this together and stronger than ever.
Everything, all of this, is because our mission, vision, and values have always been to serve vulnerable people with dignity and compassion. And we can’t allow this pandemic to stop us. It’s not going to stop us from helping the mom of four who told us with tears in her eyes that if it was not for the food from our St. Francis Center Pantry, her family would not be eating that week. Or our one Stay the Course® working-poor student, who is also a single parent, just lost their job, and told us, “she has to finish her degree so that her daughter does not experience standing in the homeless shelter line.” Or the immigrant families at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center who have lost their jobs in this new land they call home.
We do it for them, the fabric of our communities. Just when things look the most hopeless for them, TOGETHER – we’re keeping their hope alive.