It’s safe to say that we are all navigating uncharted waters these days. Covid-19 and the associated restrictions have shaken things up for everyone, and our families in poverty have been the most severely impacted. It’s easy to feel like poverty is too big a problem for you to tackle–trust me, I can relate–but that is NOT the case. There is so much you can do! Communities and non-profits everywhere are uniting to help families in need, and we invite you to join us in fighting the good fight. Here are six very doable ways that you can make a difference for the vulnerable families in your community:
Donate school supplies – Shannon Jones at Canyon County Juvenile Probation is accepting donations for the Kicking Truancy event. If you have any spare back-to-school supplies handy, bring them by 222 North 12th Ave, Caldwell, ID 83605 to help children in need.
Help them directly – Having a friend during these increasingly isolating times is more valuable than you realize. And no one is immune to feeling lonely these days. Reach out to someone you feel could benefit from a friend. Message them, send a pick-me-up, drop off some food–any of these kind gestures remind them that they are supported. When vulnerable children/families know they have at least some form of healthy support, their chances of long-term success increase dramatically.
Connect them with resources – TDGALP is not the only organization aware of the problems this pandemic has created, and others are stepping up to help! As you learn about these opportunities, be sure to share them with others who might want to use them. FYI: for those in Canyon County area, the Canyon County Resource Guide (updated 2016) lists several organizations that offer clothes, food, counseling, adult education, financial assistance, and other necessities to those in need. If you’re in Washington/Payette County area, here is a similar resource guide (updated 2017).
Be actively aware – One fifth of all reports of child abuse come from teachers and school staff. As a result of dysfunctional families being isolated by this pandemic, domestic violence is undoubtedly on the rise–but it’s not being reported since school hasn’t been meeting in person for months. It’s up to the community to protect these children. Keep an eye out for signs of child abuse and neglect, and be sure to report suspected maltreatment right away. Remember, it’s not your job to prove the abuse–that’s the duty of CPS and/or law enforcement. If you suspect anything, it’s worth reporting.
Volunteer as a Guardian Ad Litem – Of course I have to put in a plug about our awesome volunteer program.If you volunteer as a Guardian Ad Litem for 5-8 hours a month for roughly a year, you can completely changethe trajectory of a foster child’s life for the better. When children have a GAL or CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), their chances of academic success increase exponentially; they are way less likely to end up in juvenile detention or jail; and are far more likely to find a safe, permanent home that will ultimately set them up for success. Volunteer requirements are fairly minimal–you need to be 21 or older, have a valid driver’s license, and pass a background check. Check out our website to learn more about what volunteering looks like! And, if volunteering isn’t for you but you still want to help, we are always grateful for donations of any size.
Educate one another – Finally, we can’t expect you to save the world all by yourself. But there are TONS of like-minded people out there who want to make a difference! So be sure to share this article with them and start a discussion about what can be done to help our most vulnerable population during this crazy time.
We have been isolated for months now, but we cannot let that trick us into thinking we are alone. We are Idahoans! We are nothing if not a community of neighbors that look out for one another. And, in spite of being socially distanced, everyday we have the opportunity to come together stronger than ever.
Did we miss something that you think we can use to lift up our community? Please comment below with your ideas!