Page 9 - Open Sky Annual Report 2020
P. 9

  Coping, Responding and Reimagining
Meeting Basic Needs
Back in March, 2020, when the scale of the global health crisis became apparent, many of us began stockpiling basic essentials – canned goods, cleaning supplies and, of course, toilet paper. But, what about people without the financial resources to stock up?
For many of the individuals and families living below the poverty line that are served by Open Sky, the first months of the pandemic’s social distancing restrictions, limitations on public transportation, reduced store hours and shortages made putting food on the table and cleaning supplies in
the pantry a daily struggle. As unemployment rose for low-income workers in Worcester County, local food pantries became overwhelmed, unable to keep up with the increased demand.
Clearly, a creative solution was needed to ensure safe and reliable access to basic necessities for those served by Open Sky who were most at risk. To meet this need, Open Sky launched a program to assemble and deliver food and supply kits directly to people’s homes. Kits containing non-perishable items such as bread, peanut butter, cereals, tuna, toilet paper and cleaning supplies, as well as fresh fruit, vegetables and meat or seafood, are assembled and delivered by Open Sky employees, sometimes with the assistance of family members and other volunteers.
The kits, which are funded by generous grants from the Joy Guru Humanitarian Foundation, the Reliant Foundation, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation’s Worcester Together Fund, and the Webster Five Foundation, as well as by private donations, are distributed in our Safe Homes (serving LGBTQIA+ youth), ZIA (serving young people with mental health challenges), North Star (serving court involved individuals with behavioral health challenges),
and homeless services programs, as well as the Central Community Health Partnership (CCHP). To date, more than 750 food and supply kits have been distributed, as well as an additional 400 “keep busy” kits filled with inexpensive activities such as crosswords, puzzles or adult coloring books to help individuals served better occupy their time, as many have limited or no access to TV or internet.
L-R CCHP's Linda Hopkins, Wendy Mercier and Tracey Emond-Parkin
While others purchase groceries, log requests or assemble kits, Chris Butler, who works for the North Star program, is just one of the Open Sky staff who answered the call to make deliveries. Although assigned to work largely remotely since COVID took hold in the state, Chris wanted to do more. Each Thursday, you’ll find him loading up his car with boxes of supplies and heading out to individuals’ homes. Why does he do it? In short, because seeing the smiles on people’s faces, especially the children, as he drops off their supplies just makes him happy. And, during these uncertain times, happiness is a pretty important commodity.
  Distributed to date:
• More than 750 food and supply kits
• 400 “keep busy” kits filled with activities such as crosswords, puzzles or adult coloring books
Open Sky Community Services Annual Report 2020 8

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