A lot has changed at Angels and Sparrows since the COVID-19 crisis hit our community and Governor Cooper announced the Stay at Home order effective March 30th.
Angels and Sparrows immediately experienced a surge in the number of guests in need. Some who only needed our services occasionally, suddenly needed us daily. Initially, families arrived with wary expressions on their faces while children screamed gleefully in their cars at the prospect of staying home from school. This quickly changed to long lines of cars with parents anxiously awaiting their meals and children quietly observing the discussions between their parents and our staff regarding needs which ranged from groceries, to gas money, and more recently the fear of not being able to catch-up paying for rent - and the potential for eviction. New families experiencing loss of hours at work, furlough, or unemployment for the first time, joined those who already depended on us to make ends meet.
Our process changed too. We were forced to modify how we serve our guests from café style to a drive-up format to accommodate the need for social distancing and the tremendous increase in numbers being served. We began delivering meals and groceries to our at-risk, homebound seniors. We noticed more families carpooling, households consolidating to help reserve the little funds left, and the need for home delivery began to include not only homebound seniors, but also families who lost access to transportation due to the inability to pay for gas or bus fare.
However, here’s what did not change. YOU, the community stepped up as you always have when you heard our resources had been depleted by the surge in need and our necessity to pivot and provide more food than ever. Your families came early in the morning or joined the long lines of those receiving meals to drop off groceries – many of which were used the very day you dropped them off. Still more of you donated online, allowing us to fill the gaps among the food received and what we still needed.
And, here’s something else that did not change – the love and care with which we serve our guests. A command center of volunteers who could no longer serve in person due to health risks began calling guests at home to check on them. New volunteers joined our team to help us sort food, put together boxes of groceries, or hand out meals – sometimes in the blistering heat and lately in the pouring rain. YOU, the community, are the heroes who enable us to show our neighbors in need that we not only care, but we care deeply.
Your donations enabled us to handle a 91% surge in need compared to last year and since the beginning of the crisis through June, we were able to provide the following:
And, we keep progressing. You see, the calls we made that first week didn’t stop. They have continued now each week for 15 weeks in a row. This has allowed us to remain in constant contact with our guests and hear how they are being impacted by this crisis, and to take the necessary steps to provide further assistance. We are inculcating the new families into our family and showing them how this community cares. Calls that were initially brief check-ins have evolved into lengthy discussions celebrating triumphs, such as when a new baby is born, or providing comfort when a guest shares with us that they’ve lost a family member to COVID-19.
Our guests have expressed their gratitude in a myriad of ways, from sending thank you cards, letters, and artwork created by their children to sharing homemade cakes and pies they’ve baked for our volunteers. Each note or letter we receive expresses gratitude for the impact our work has made on their family.
So, to the community, we say THANK YOU! You are the heroes on the front lines doing anything you can for those whose lives have been devastated by this unprecedented crisis. Our guests feel your embrace at a time when they need it the most.
Our work is not done. The needs have not diminished and the number of families who need meals and groceries continues to grow. Even though the Stay at Home order has been relaxed, many of our guests who work in the accommodations and food services industry continue to experience few hours, if they have been able to find work at all. They are still struggling to provide for their families.
Here is what you can do to continue to cushion the blow these families are experiencing:
Angels and Sparrows