Almost a year ago, we were beginning to learn about Covid-19. Since that time, we’ve seen a dramatic impact on our health, unemployment, and mental health:
- Over 20,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Wake County
- More than 77,000 jobs lost in Wake County between February and August
- A Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows steady increases in mental health symptoms associated with anxiety and depression in May, June, and July. In addition, research has shown an increase in depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem as well as higher rates of substance use disorders and suicide in relation to job loss and isolation.
Wake County, homelessness is increasing and our homeless service system is beyond capacity. To meet CDC guidelines, shelters have reduced the number of people they can serve and new hotel programs have emerged. Agencies are working with the county now to find creative solutions to address emergency safety options for those living outdoors during days and nights of extreme weather and cold conditions that we will be facing in the coming weeks
In response to the impending catastrophic number of evictions as moratoriums end, various federal and local funding sources have been infused into our community, creating programs such as the HOUSE WAKE! Homeless Service Access Hub, the HOUSE WAKE! Eviction Prevention Program, and WakeHelps to address utility debt. At WWCM, we are doing our part to prevent our neighbors from eviction, homelessness and utility cut off by continuously modifying our protocols to fill the gaps.
As these larger county-level programs ramp up, WWCM also ramped up by creating the Family Recovery Fund, hiring a second Social Worker and spending more than 5 times our average monthly spending to keep families housed. We modified our policies to ensure that our neighbors facing hardships are connected with county programs when eligible. Through case management and gap funding, we directly address needs that are not covered by other programs or when flexibility and a quick response is urgently needed, especially for vulnerable families.
We are also addressing food insecurity with special Saturday distribution days in addition to our regular weekly schedule. We are working with Fiesta Cristiana to host monthly Hispanic/Latinx outreach events providing health and Covid-19 education materials, hand sanitizer, masks, resource materials, and cultural foods. We have served over 400 unique Hispanic families over the last few months and over 100 families per event for Saturday distributions. During our regular weekly food distribution, we have begun to offer an Open Air Market, offering food choice again in addition to curbside grocery pick up and home delivery when needed.
I share all of this with you because I want you to know that WWCM is well positioned to do what we’ve always done best – provide emergency support for our neighbors in crisis.
I also want to share with you that I have accepted a position with the Raleigh Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness as their Director of Strategy and Development. My role will be to facilitate the collective impact of the network of agencies that are working to address homelessness and to be a leader in the strategic direction that is carried out by those nonprofits and county programs, including WWCM’s. I will also be working with funders, government and private, to bring dollars into our community to help us in these efforts.
But rest assured, WWCM will be in good hands. Our staff and volunteers are nothing short of amazing! Our board of directors is strong and committed. Starting this week, Wendy Scott, will be serving as our Interim Director. Wendy has more than 30 years of experience in multiple roles working with all types of non-profit agencies both local and international in scope. She has already hit the ground running as she and I will work together over the next few weeks to complete the transition.
As we approach cooler weather and winter, I hope you will consider ways that you can support the efforts of WWCM in responding to the deep needs that have emerged in 2020. Our Holidays and Beyond food drive is currently underway and our Annual, End-of-Year fundraiser will begin soon. You can contribute by texting the amount to 844-731-0143 or by making an online donation at wwcm.org/donate or by mailing a check to WWCM at 1600 Olive Chapel Road, Suite 408, Apex, 27502. See our website and watch for more details on Facebook and Twitter.
You are at the heart of everything we do and it is because of you that we are able to be so responsive to our community’s needs. Thank you. I have been blessed by my service at WWCM. I live in Apex and I will continue to support this organization in every way that I can. I’m beginning now with my personal contribution. Will you join me?