I hope this finds you and your family safe and coping with these trying conditions. I’ve been encouraged to hear from so many people asking how they can help support our BGCTRR community during this time of need. We’ve learned a lot in the past week, and I am writing now to update you on what we are doing and how you can help. This is a much longer email than normal, and I appreciate your patience getting through it.
These are challenging times at BGCTRR, as they are for everyone across the globe. I am especially concerned about our community’s low-income families and, especially, their parents’ ability to keep working and paying rent.
While we’ve made the decision to shut our sites down, BGCTRR is not closed. We have repurposed to meet the needs of our students, families & community, and our staff. Here is what we have done so far for each of these stakeholders:
Club Members. Our staff has been creatively finding ways to continue supporting our Club Members. We are moving to a virtual programming model where staff are connecting with Club Members by phone, internet, video and text. Our priority is to maintain relationships between staff and Club Members, as well as between peers, to help the Club Members avoid a sense of social isolation, to keep them feeling connected, and to realize that people care about them. Club Members will likely experience more stress as this social distancing continues, and we will continue learning how to keep in touch with them.
As a second order priority, if we can support their academic work, all the better. Many of our Club Members live in crowded homes without a quiet place for distance learning. We are in communication with our school partners to align our efforts.
Families and community. We are offering drop-off lunches to Club Members in Rocky Mount and Nashville. Edgecombe County Public Schools are delivering food to their bus stops. We have done outreach to our families and the community at large, and we are working to provide meals to residents in two of the housing authority developments. We don’t know how the demand will grow over time, and we will do our best to accommodate. We are working to possibly provide dinner as well.
Staff. BGCTRR is a family, and that includes staff as well as Club Members. We feel a responsibility to protect our staff members as much as we can. This economic disruption will be most painful for the lowest income workers, who don’t have the savings to weather the slow down. Most of our staff are living paycheck to paycheck to pay their bills, especially rent. Many are living with their parents to help pay rent, and some have already seen their parents lose work. Most are concerned about how they will financially survive this pandemic.
We want to keep full time staff financially secure through this entire crisis. Our plan is to continue to fully employ our staff throughout this pandemic. They will support our Club Members and advance our mission, while programming virtually. With schools and clubs closed, programming and working virtually will be a challenge for many. Some don’t have good wi-fi at home or a quiet place to work. We are simply asking staff to make their best efforts under these difficult situations. When the clouds eventually lift, we will be ready to go full speed. As the pandemic continues, if our stakeholders’ needs change, and we will modify our actions in response. We are staying focused on what we can do right now.
Highlighting who BGCTRR is. This past week has highlighted for me what BGCTRR is. We are a critical resource for our community’s most fragile families. We have been on the ground in the Twin Counties for over 50 years. We have grown slowly and steadily. We are dependable. We are consistent. We are flexible to meet the evolving needs of our families. We are a valued partner of teachers, school principals and superintendents. In a world of uncertainty, BGCTRR is a trusted organization upon whom our community depends.
Our work is developing young people through their academic success, health and wellness, and good character and citizenship. This takes years. Our youth need long term, trusting relationships, not programs. Our work is not project based; it’s always on going.
How can you help? Many of you have asked how you can help, and we appreciate that. We will have to cancel Derby Day for this fiscal year, an event that raised $15,000 last year. We were scheduled to raise $25,000 this year. We also had to cancel a golf tournament in Nashville that was set to raise $10,000. The funds were to purchase a computer lab for the Nashville site. Fundraising will also be harder, as we can no longer meet in-person with donors or give tours.
What we need from our donors now is your continued partnership, so we can remain a trusted and dependable community servant. We need multi-year, long term, unrestricted support. This is what allows us to weather short term storms like Floyd in 1999, Matthew in 2016 and COVID-19 in 2020. This is what allows us to reallocate resources to meet changing needs. This is what allows us to support our Club Members, families and staff through the hard times.
Thank you for your partnership. You can always reach me at 252-977-9924.