It’s often said that in times of crisis, people come together. They rally the troops, join together for vigils and memorials, donate blood, donate time, and donate money. It’s in times of crisis that we band together because we are reminded of our shared truth – we are all human. We are all vulnerable. We all have our weaknesses. But when we stand together, nothing can stop us.
The pandemic that has taken over the world, COVID-19, is the latest crisis that has impacted literally everyone. Our society is currently doing everything it can to ensure the health and safety of our communities. Schools have closed, offices are empty, and restaurants are take-out only. Yet, the work at D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s continues. Our staff remain on the front lines, working with the children and families that we serve.
Operating as (Un)usual
While most people are hunkering down and preparing for the next three weeks of sheltering in place at home, our Residential Services staff are essential, and on the front lines working with vulnerable youth. They are continuing their important work, making sure the kids who live on our residential campus are safe, healthy, and getting the therapeutic and clinical support that they need.
Our foster care and adoption workers continue to stay connected with their children and families, as well. They’re making an effort to keep children connected with their biological or adoptive families by hosting visits over Skype, FaceTime, or TeleHealth. As needed and when urgent, they will continue to visit homes and engage children and families.
Our Family Preservation Services division is utilizing new technology to stay connected, and provide services. Our Kent School Services Network (KSSN) team is helping out with delivering food to their families that don’t have transportation, and sharing new engagement strategies. The Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) team is continuing to provide direct services to their clients. Our Family Support Services team is also checking in with families more frequently, and coordinating with other providers in the community to ensure their needs are being met.
Our administrative and operations teams have continued their work in support of our programs, ensuring our kids and families get the best care possible during this difficult time.
“Watching our employees work together through this has made us incredibly proud to be part of this agency,” said Jeremiah Hawkins, Chief Programs Officer of D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s. “Camaraderie is such an important aspect of life and work, and even more so today. It unites us and give us the much needed support we need. We are in this crisis together, and we will overcome it together.”
How You Can Help From Home
At this very moment, there are 810 kids placed in foster homes in Kent County. Unfortunately that number doesn’t drop to zero when a global crisis occurs. When a child enters foster care, they often have little to no belongings with them. At D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s, we try to give each child a Care Bag filled with essential items that they can immediately call their own when moving into a foster home. If you would like to donate a Care Bag, shop our Amazon Wish List and have the items sent directly to our Leonard Campus (805 Leonard St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). You can also help the kids living on our residential campus keep busy by donating fun games and activities via our Amazon Wish List, and having it sent directly to our Knapp Campus (2355 Knapp St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505), or make a monetary donation.
Resiliency Spreads Too
As this pandemic continues to spread, resiliency spreads too. You may have seen the videos of Italian residents singing from their balconies, or the video of a man in Spain playing “My Heart Will Go On” on his keyboard on his balcony, while his neighbor played along on his saxophone a few balconies away. Even Jimmy Fallon has called for people in the United States to stand on their porches, patios, and balconies, and make some noise using cowbells or banging together pots and pans in honor of our first responders. Those videos you’ve seen show the incredible resilience of humankind, and you can feel it. You can feel it in your gut, and you can feel it in your heart. You can feel this same resiliency right here at D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s.
So to the people whose work continues – like the social workers, clinicians, residential staff, therapists, and many more here at DABSJ – we see you, and we thank you.
Please visit this page to view agency updates regarding COVID-19.
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About Allyssa Murphy
Allyssa's journey in the nonprofit world began in 2016 when she started working as a marketing assistant at a small residential facility for foster children in Flint, Michigan. This is where her passion for advocating for children's rights began. She later joined the DABSJ team in 2017.
Her hobbies include planning vacations - but never taking them, game nights with friends, keeping up with the latest movies and TV shows, and visiting friends and family on the other side of the mitten.
Allyssa graduated from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor's degree in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Nonprofit Administration. She also has an associate's degree in Media Arts from Mott Community College.