Nonprofits struggle to serve clients during pandemic shutdown | TheUnion.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Nonprofits struggle to serve clients during pandemic shutdown

Tom Durkin
Staff Writer

Life as Nevada County knew it changed March 19 when Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all nonessential operations in the state to shut down.

Nonprofit organizations serving some of Nevada County’s most vulnerable citizens are doing their best to continue to help their clients.

“We’re essential,” said peer counselor Mindy Stidham of the Spirit Peer Empowerment Center in Grass Valley.

“We’ve been open and running the whole time,” said Pauline Abrons, executive director of Spirit.

Support Local Journalism


Located in a secluded, old house overlooking the Glenbrook Basin, Spirit serves some of Nevada County’s most needy citizens, predominantly low income, mentally disordered and homeless people.

For some clients, Spirit is just a safe place to be.

Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Spirit offers one-on-one and group peer counseling, social events, showers, laundry, technology assistance and a kitchen to cook nutritious food, Abrons said.

Of course, it’s not business as usual at Spirit. Strict hygiene protocols have been instituted, Stidham reported.

Before entering the building, clients must wash their hands at a washing station. Also, they must have their temperature checked and answer some COVID-19 screening questions, she explained.

All clients, staff and volunteers must wear masks and maintain social distance inside the facility, Abrons said. Only 10 clients at a time are allowed inside, she added.

Everything is in short supply at Spirit. Abrons said they need masks and nonperishable food as well as travel-sized soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, razors and other personal hygiene items.

In addition to serving clients at Spirit, highly trained peer counselors also help staff at the Crisis Stabilization Unit at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. The unit exists to assist patients experiencing mental health issues.

LIVING WITH VIOLENCE

“We have just recently seen an incredible increase in requests for services from those who have been living with violence during the stay-at-home order,” said Stephanie Fischer, executive director of Community Beyond Violence in Grass Valley. “This is an extremely vulnerable time for survivors of violence.

“COVID-19 is stretching our resources and presenting challenges to our ability to conduct victim outreach and care,” Fischer revealed. “We have completely overhauled our outreach communication strategies.”

Formerly known as the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, CBV serves the needs of women, children and men who are victims of domestic or sexual violence or human trafficking.

Besides running a safe shelter for women and children, CBV also offers crisis counseling, individual counseling, support groups, assistance with temporary restraining orders, and advocacy for victims in court and the emergency room.

With two major fundraisers canceled because of the pandemic, “We’ve lost a lot of money,” Fischer said.

Layoffs of full- and part-time staff are imminent if the shutdown goes on much longer, Fischer predicted. “We’re not looking forward to that.”

FREED

“We’ve been really busy,” said Ana Action, executive director of the FREED Center for Independent Living in Grass Valley. She said the center is receiving double the number of calls it usually gets this time of year.

Founded in 1985 as The Foundation of Resources for Equality and Employment for the Disabled, FREED is dedicated to assisting people with disabilities and senior citizens who need support to stay at home.

“We quickly pivoted to working remotely,” Acton said, because like their clients, most of the staff and volunteers are disabled and/or at-risk themselves.

Right now, about 80 FREED clients are receiving “reassurance calls” once a week. Most incoming calls are for food or financial insecurity. “We’re trying to keep people from becoming homeless,” Acton said.

Additionally, in partnership local food banks, FREED is delivering food and assistance to about 60 to 70 people each week, she said.

“There always seems to be more need than capacity,” she observed.

FREED is in need of able-bodied volunteers who can deliver food and heavy backup batteries for clients who depend on critical medical equipment during power outages.

Many FREED clients are stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide. Acton stated she is expecting 100 laptops or tablets from the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers.

Those internet-capable devices will be loaned to clients for long-term use, but they’ll only be useful if patient, tech-savvy volunteers step up to train clients how to use the equipment, she said.

TOUGH CHALLENGE

One Source-Empowering Caregivers in Grass Valley faces an especially tough challenge in that all of its clients are at-risk, and so are most of its volunteers.

“The physical help that caregivers receive has been suspended or stopped, making the burden of care more fatiguing, exhausting, fearful, and demanding with no option for respite in the home,” OSEC executive director Carolyn Seyler said in an email.

“Our ability to serve clients has been creatively redirected to other communication modalities, which include telephone visits, email contacts, virtual visits, and handwritten card-sending,” Seyler wrote,

In normal times, OSEC gives 24/7 caregivers respite from their stressful, round-the-clock duties. Specially trained “volunteer care specialists” make in-home visits once a week to relieve stressed, at-risk caregivers. They give caregivers some “care free” respite while the OSEC volunteer watches over the care recipient.

Care recipients, by definition, are at risk because of age, critical illness and/or some form of dementia. OSEC volunteers tend to be older and thus are at risk themselves.

Seyler added she hopes the shared experience of shelter in place makes the general population more sympathetic to the “real and actual needs” of caregivers who experience “isolation, dependency and loneliness” on a daily basis.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

‘We are the recovery; we are essential’: Nevada County Arts Council survey reveals artists, art organizations are struggling

Who’s zooming whom? Creativity among Nevada County artists in the pandemic era

Nevada County Arts Council receives $112K Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education grant for new project

Nevada County nonprofit funding in jeopardy

Nonprofits struggle to serve clients during pandemic shutdown

Nevada County animal rescue groups see surge in fosters, adoptions

Nevada County’s thrift stores move ahead with reopening

Possible postponement, cancellation of Nevada County Fair would negatively impact several Nevada County nonprofits

Local nonprofits feeling the effect of canceled, postponed fundraising events due to COVID-19

Feeding Nevada County: Effort to help those hungry bolstered by partnerships between nonprofits (VIDEO)

Nevada County youth organizations adjust to public health requirements

Volunteer work faces changes at Nevada County nonprofits amid restrictions

‘Do you have reserves?’ Still much uncertainty over how nonprofits will fare in coming months, years

Government business continues in isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County, cities collaborate to reopen safely

Wildfire prep in Nevada County continues virtually during pandemic

‘This is why we signed up’: Librarian, homeless shelter manager continue working during pandemic

Financial aid offers much-needed relief in western Nevada County for those who can get it

Grass Valley trims staff in response to COVID-19 shutdown

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

Nevada County property tax on par despite pandemic

Nevada County health workers say they currently have sufficient supply of personal protective equipment

Hospice of the Foothills continues providing end-of-life care during COVID-19 crisis

Senior care facilities on lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic

Residents of Nevada County senior living communities staying connected

‘Continue to plan and prepare’: Hospital analyzes finances, anticipates federal funding to ensure financial stability

Nurses in Nevada County and the region talk about why they love their jobs

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed COVID-19 case data

Officials: Testing is key in calls to reopen in Nevada County, across California

Nevada County doctors change approach to providing care due to COVID-19

The trifecta: Public health experts recommend testing, contact tracing and supported isolation to phase into a reopened world

Investigating the impact: Lack of revenue, uncertain return date causes concern for arts and entertainment venues

Impacts of Idaho-Maryland mine to be revealed soon

Nevada County artists discuss how COVID-19 shutdown has affected them

‘The arts are essential’: Center for the Arts launches emergency relief fund

Real estate sales strong in Nevada County despite challenges

No slowdown seen in Nevada County construction industry despite COVID-19 lockdown

Nevada County government, home improvement and real estate representatives talk business during COVID-19

‘I’d like to place an order’: In light of COVID-19, the demand for home delivery services in Nevada County is at an all-time high

Grass Valley, Nevada City first to feel COVID-19 economic hit

See you soon? Small business owners struggle, but are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow in Nevada County

Nevada County businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Nevada County health care providers pivot on financial tight rope

‘A sudden and dramatic downturn’: Nevada County economy will be hurt for longtime following coronavirus slowdown, expert says

‘A recession, let alone a depression’: Western Nevada County businesses apply for federal loans, but most have yet to receive money

Nevada County businesses, governments, nonprofits navigate uncertain times, worry what’s ahead

RELATED RESOURCES

http://www.TheUnion.com/coronavirus

http://www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

Tom Durkin is a staff writer with The Union.


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Connect with needs and opportunities from

Get immediate access to organizations and people in our area that need your help or can provide help during the Coronavirus crisis.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User