What is also clear, is that every PLN child, youth, family, and employee has felt the pandemic’s reach, often in very painful ways, and we all continue to find ways to persevere and look ahead to a healthier, safer and more promising tomorrow.
That perseverance might have meant transitioning to virtual learning and remote training environments, securing a remote internship or new employment opportunity, studying for a HISET, or participating in therapy or guidance via Zoom or on the phone. For staff, this has been about navigating new teaching platforms or nurturing mental health from a distance, coordinating food and supply distributions, facilitating new health and safety systems for all PLN sites, or securing vaccinations for employees – all while balancing the needs of our own families – and often times, processing and grieving for what is happening around us.
We had envisioned our site closures being temporary, but this was not to be. It did not stop us from celebrating the things we always celebrate – just doing it differently. We celebrated our students’ success through virtual culmination ceremonies for the early education centers, primary center, and elementary school, as well as a drive-through culmination for our 8th graders from PLN’s middle school.
As businesses closed amidst broad public health precautions and actions, challenges for so many Para Los Niños families intensified. Our staff were quick to address these hardships, alongside our families, and we also leaned into existing and formed new partnerships to secure, assemble, and distribute food, PPE, diapers, formula, and cleaning supplies to support PLN families. Our Best Start team established a partnership with 16 fellow community organizations to create distribution hubs addressing food insecurity and transportation inequities in the community. Since their work began, the initiative has provided more than 16,100 food boxes, that’s nearly a million meals (and counting)!