How Our Funded Programs Adjusted Services Due to COVID-19

Danville Speech and Hearing Center

In March due to COVID-19, the Danville Speech and Hearing Center closed their office to in-person appointments and quickly converted to digital online or phone therapy sessions. These type services proved difficult for many of their clients. Within two months, the agency was able to safely open their doors to in-person therapy again. However, many clients were hesitant about attending in-person sessions, so they continue to offer digital services. Due to school closures, student referrals have stopped, however community partnerships with PATHS, Boys and Girls Clubs and other youth serving organizations allows for the continuation of hearing and speech evaluations.

To protect the agency’s solvency, staff hours and overhead costs have been reduced. Their annual fundraising golf tournament had to be postponed, so other funding options are being explored.

Healthy Families

Due to pre-COVID planning by Healthy Families America, our local Healthy Families program hardly skipped a beat when face-to-face services for new mothers had to be discontinued. The program’s evidenced-based services with fidelity were quickly provided virtually. Family “visits”, groups, activities and assessments have all continued virtually and with great success. No contact drop-offs of supplies and educational materials have also been arranged, allowing Healthy Families to continue to provide services essential to families during this critical time.

Danville Life Saving Crew

The COVID-19 pandemic has almost completely changed how the Danville Life Saving Crew responds to, treats, transports, and transfers a patient. It has also intensified how they “do business”. As the City’s 911 provider for emergency medical care and interventions, “layoffs” have not affected staffing. And while the business office and the Training Center doors were closed, operations and services continue nonstop.

Since May, call numbers have soared to an average of 1,145 calls per month. This is a 20% increase over the first quarter monthly numbers, and a 9% increase overall in 2020 to date.

Since “day-1” procedures have changed. Provider health and well-being checks are conducted each day and twice during their shifts. While face masks and gloves are worn on every call, COVID calls require N95, face shield, glasses, gloves, and gowns. To minimize risk, only one provider enters the premises unless others are needed. After each (possible or actual) COVID call, the ambulance and all equipment is cleaned and disinfected. New protocols are also in place to protect families and households when crew members go home after their shift.

Getting needed supplies is a challenge, and increased prices have impacted their budget.

From the beginning of each shift until its end, things are more labor intensive, more dangerous, and more expensive. But the volunteers and staff have stepped up to serve the community. It is very risky work, but the members of the Danville Life Saving Crew remain committed.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is alive and well and continues to serve the community as needed.
Although they continue their feeding and social service programs, how they are conducted looks completely different than the norm. Meals are served at the door in to go trays instead of in the dining room. And although the numbers being served have dropped, in some cases meals are delivered to those who contacted them to say they are unable to get to the center.

However, the social services program is seeing more clients for assistance with rent and utilities. When people realized they were going to lose their electricity if bills were not paid, calls for assistance increased substantially, with the Salvation Army meeting the needs as much as the funds allow. All intakes are done online and clients of the Food Pantry have their food boxes placed in their car trunks. Assistance with requests for hotel stays has also increased.

The Salvation Army stands ready to serve our community with open arms and an open heart.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Danville Area

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Danville Area (BBBS) established some limitations to protect the health and safety of their Bigs, Littles and the families. All home visits by the mentors or mentees were put on hold and virtual communication was encouraged.

Monitoring of the matches by agency staff is being done virtually or by phone. Adult volunteers continue to participate in training opportunities online. Additionally, all interviews of potential mentors are done virtually and no in-person home visits by staff are allowed.

The agency’s major fundraiser, Bowl for Kids’ Sake, had to be cancelled. Three successful grant applications have helped, in addition to funds from the Payroll Protection Plan.

BBBS is grateful for all their mentors who continue to keep contact with their Littles during this time and for the many new volunteers who are currently going through the process to become Bigs to make a difference in a child’s life.

Boy Scouts of America – Blue Ridge Mountain Council – Dan River District

Although the methods have changed, Boy Scouts in the Dan River District are still being served through virtual meetings, virtual events, online merit badge programs and individual service projects. One Scout earned his Eagle Award through the organization of a Face Mask Drive, resulting in the making and donation of over 400 face masks to the United Way for distribution.

Covid-19 caused the cancelation of summer camp for hundreds of Scouts. This significantly impacted the Council’s budget and resulted in the downsizing of the agency’s staff and placing the Scout Service Center in Roanoke and one Base Camp for sale. These decisions were made in order to fulfill their primary mission of serving youth. Staff are assigned larger geographic areas to serve.

The primary recruitment method for new youth into the program is in-school recruitment programs. With the inability to reach youth through schools, a decrease in new members is expected during the 2020 and 2021 school year.

The Boy Scouts are thankful for their volunteers who continue to serve their members virtually during this difficult time.

Boys and Girls Clubs of the Danville Area

Although the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Danville Area had to close their facilities in both Danville and Pittsylvania County for a few months, they responded to the needs of youth and their families. During the first four months of the pandemic in Virginia, the agency distributed 430 meals, 350 program kits and connected with 390 youth members and their families through virtual programming. Limited numbers of youth were allowed to return to the club in June and both virtual and in-club learning is being provided during the school year.

Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer Association

Cancer never stopped when the virus began, and neither did the Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer. The agency continues to serve the community on a daily basis. In order to protect the health and safety of those who come for help or to support the agency, a new drop box in the agency lobby was added, as well as curbside service for those needing to pick up or drop off supplies.

The need for services has continued to rise during the virus and Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer has been there to meet those needs.

Danville Church-Based Tutorial Program

Due to COVID-19, all 37 of the Danville Church-Based Tutorial sites were closed when schools closed in March. Summer camps were cancelled, but the program began getting ready for the beginning of the school year. In August and early September tutors received training in reading and Google Meets. Sites also began their community awareness and recruitment through Open Houses and the registration process began.

The tutorial sites will be operating beginning October 1. Eighty percent of the sites will be conducting virtual tutoring using Google Meets. Face-to-face tutoring will be done using CDC guidelines in Cedar Terrace, Pleasant View, Cardinal Village and Seeland Crossing housing communities.

Goodwill Industries of the Valleys

Services provided by Goodwill Industries were adjusted to meet the requirements for COVID-19 safety but continued to meet the needs of their consumers. The Career Center was closed briefly but reopened in July with CDC guidelines in place. Programming for Career in Technology shifted to virtually, as well as their learning and development classes for staff and the community. A weekly calendar is distributed to keep people informed of their training schedule. The Goodwill stores were also closed briefly but are back in operation with social distancing and mask requirements. During the closure, those furloughed were provided with resources and assistance with completing required documentation.

Regional Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention Youth Advisory Council

The Youth Advisory Council for RASAP continues to meet even though youth are not in school regularly. The Danville City and Pittsylvania County meetings have been combined and are held using the Zoom platform. The youth are working on re-vamping past campaigns, such as “Arrive Alive, Don’t Drink and Drive” so that they may conduct promotions outside the school setting. Once in-school instruction begins, the youth will resume in-school promotion of their campaigns and conduct in-person meetings.

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross mission has continued on during the COVID-19 pandemic with some changes as to how services are delivered to their disaster clients. Disaster volunteers continue to go to home fire clients, but are mandated to wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart and avoid contact. Most work is done virtually prior to the exchange of funds for recovery.

Social distancing requirements have impacted sheltering services. Recent flooding caused 18 families to be placed in hotel rooms instead of congregate shelter. Each client received a PPE pack and food was delivered and left at the hotel door.

The lifesaving smoke alarm install program was put on hold and will resume once volunteer/client interaction is allowed.

As with so many others, what was once a very personal meeting between volunteer and client after a disaster, has become a masked social distance event.

The Arc of Southside

In March 2020, The Arc of Southside began closing programs, including their social enterprise, River District Artisans. Their Residential and Supported Employment programs remained open. However, a reduction in services meant a significant reduction in Medicaid reimbursement funding and furloughed employees.

The Residential Program continued to operate due to the need for in-home supports for those individuals living in their own home. Staff go into their homes to provide the support they require in order to remain living independently.

The Arc’s Supported Employment program also continued to operate for those who already had jobs in the community when COVID-19 hit. For those in the program who were looking for jobs, company closures made employment difficult to obtain.

The end of June, staff were called back to work and previously closed programs began on July 1 with a Viral Response Plan in place and CDC guidelines followed for the safety of staff and the individuals served.

Community-based services have allowed many individuals served by The Arc of Southside to continue to receive those services during this pandemic. This transition by The Arc over the past 10 years has allowed many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live A Live Like Yours.

Virginia Legal Aid Society

The Danville office of the Virginia Legal Aid Society has remained open through most of the COVID-19 crisis. The office has been open to the public by appointment only. When it does not adversely affect the client, attorneys work as much as possible with clients via phone, email, text and other remote methods to help combat the spread of the disease. They also meet with clients face-to-face outside of the office when clients are unable to make it to the office.

Since late spring, there has been a surge in calls for service, the largest related to family issues, which have increased by 7%. These cases are almost entirely domestic violence cases. National studies have shown that incidences of domestic violence rise when 1) families face economic hardships and 2) people are housebound.

Legal Aid also anticipates a sharp increase in their services for potential eviction cases when federal and state government protections are lightened or removed. The number of Americans missing all or a portion of their monthly rent or mortgage payments are at historically high levels: about one-third of Americans in July.

Virginia Legal Aid Society has worked extensively to build up a network of referring partner agencies. Those connections have certainly benefited many individuals and families during COVID-19.