Our Community is at a Disadvantage. Here’s Why:

COVID-19 is impacting our community the same way it’s impacting Americans all over the country. The difference is that our community is at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with it. 
Many of our seniors with chronic conditions do not have the technology or support to access telemedicine visits. They are used to coming to the  Bethlehem Center or going to doctor appointments for connection. Now they’re confined to their homes and unable to go purchase food and supplies because they are considered high-risk. Like all Americans, they struggle to get their hands on toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant, bleach, gloves, and masks.  

 
 
 
 

Among younger adults in our community, we are seeing a different problem. Just like in your community, some are not taking the threat seriously. Then, there are some that don’t know where to access truthful information and may not have internet access or cable to do so. Many of our families work in factories and if just one person in those factories tests positive, large parts of our population could become unemployed when they were already working far below a liveable wage standard. Finally, many individuals and families may struggle to pay rent and utilities during this time. We have to encourage our community to wrestle between wants, needs, and even bigger needs.

 
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How We’re Serving
So, we’re sticking with our community in different ways. We’re not offering programs in our building, but in some beautiful ways, we’re reaching out to our community more than ever before.
As the Director of Community Outreach, it has been the responsibility of my team and I to contact over 56 seniors each week to see how they’re doing. Hearing a familiar voice reminds them that people care about and remember them. We worked with many partners to find out which medicines could be delivered to their doors and advised them to call their doctors about 90-day prescriptions.

 We are giving tablets to seniors with chronic conditions whose doctors have asked to see them via telemedicine. We also have a mass-messaging software with almost 300 community contacts. We send a once-weekly message with the latest information about the Coronavirus, stimulus checks, and more. 


 

We are delivering food boxes to all our seniors that call the pantry and are also delivering emergency care packages that include toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectants, gloves, a mask, mini hand sanitizers, and more. Our pantry is still open as a resource to any individual who doesn’t have enough to get by and we’re administering an emergency assistance fund to help pay important bills for those who lost their jobs because of the Coronavirus.
 Finally, we are still doing Faith & Finances virtually. Everyone in the class has been such a blessing, and we’re having those hard conversations about the virus, the stimulus checks, and the changes to come. 

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Last Words
Last week Ms. Ruthann, a senior resident, called and thanked us. She said the items we gave were EXACTLY what she needed and she praised the Lord for us. Another senior sent us a card and two beautiful magnetic flower pens (pictured). So all in all, it’s been crazy, but our community loves us and we love them. 

All of that may leave you wondering, how can I get involved? You can visit our website to donate and just click on the COVID-19 Relief Efforts designation and put “Community Connection” in the comments. You can also text ' giverelief ' to 243725. Lastly, you can pray for us and share our story. it’s nice to hear some positive COVID-19 news in the world and this might just give someone some hope. 


 

Shoutout to our Community Connection COVID-19 All-Stars: our Faith & Finances allies and participants, St. Elmo UMC Women in Missions, St. Elmo Presbyterian Church, Spencer & Hailey T., St. Alexius, United Way of Greater Chattanooga, Kristi Wicks, The Robert Finley Stone Foundation, Stephanie L., Brainerd UMC Women, Patti G., Carol Kay J., and YOU. We couldn’t do it without your prayers and support!


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Gloria Dubose

Gloria is the Community Outreach Director at the Bethlehem Center. She started at the Beth as an unpaid intern and she's been here ever since! She's a proud Moc (UTC alumni) and is passionate about learning everything Latin (including Spanish).
To connect with Gloria email [email protected]

Posted by The Beth

This last week has been jarring, to say the least. While everyone is discussing quarantine and social distancing, our Read to Lead students and their families have different anxieties accompanying this change of routine. “What about school? What about my friends? What about food? What are we going to do?” are a few questions that I am sure has passed through the minds of our kids, many of whom live in food-insecure households. Since our students are no longer in school, they aren’t receiving meals that they typically would during school hours. 



The Director of Education at the Bethlehem Center, Rachel DeVore, deeply understands this reality. That is why when the Hamilton County School District announced that all schools would be closed until late March (later changed to April 13th), she sprung into action. She contacted all of her Read to Lead staff expressing how we need a plan to feed our kids. After calling, texting, and posting on Facebook for food donations, we were able to get the financial and donation support needed to kickstart our Beth snack pack program. 




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Each snack pack contains a sandwich, vegetables, fruit, and granola bars/crackers. We deliver these daily to students. We also provide transportation for students to access food provided by the Hamilton County School System. On Wednesdays, we provide hot meals for Read to Lead families. As of April 3, 2020, we have distributed 1,339 snacks and 63 activity packs to children and 261 meals to families. We are also making phone calls to ensure families have certain resources needed in their households. In addition, we are using Zoom web-based video calls to check on our students and to read them stories.




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For our kids, consistency is everything. We aren’t sure when everything will be back to normal, but we do know that COVID-19 does not and will not stand in the way of caring for our kids and serving our Beth families

If you would like to support our relief efforts, please visit our donation page on our website, select a donation amount, and choose “ COVID-19 Relief Efforts” as the designated gift. You can also text giverelief to 243725.

 We appreciate any help you can give to our students and their families at this time!


Grace Miller

Grace earned her Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. She is currently working towards graduating with her Master’s from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in May 2020. 

Posted by The Beth

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Social-Emotional Learning with Ms. Grace

Hello! My name is Grace Miller, and I’m the  Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Interventionist at the Bethlehem Center. Since August of this year, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to connect with students in our Read to Lead Academy on a deeper level. My hope is that through the SEL program, we can give our  Beth students the tools they need to be socially and emotionally mature as they move into adulthood.

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My job at the Beth is to oversee students who need additional support.  I provide individual check-ins on Mondays and four emotional-education groups on Thursdays.  It’s not unusual for there to be at least one or two kids who enter our building completely distraught. If a child is overwhelmed, upset, confused, or just needs a break from all of the chaos, my job is to provide a place for them to process their thoughts and feelings in safe and healthy ways. 

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Since I started seeing these students, the Read to Lead staff has seen improvement in kids who’ve been stereotyped as “problem” children in the past. What our SEL program has proven and is continuing to prove is that teaching a child certain methods that positively impact his or her emotional and social growth, will lead to a dramatic difference in his or her behavior.

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During emotional-education groups, I focus on SEL skills and principles. This semester, two groups are currently focusing on learning what emotions are and how to appropriately express them to others. The other two groups are learning how to manage and regulate their emotions. One benefit from these groups is that we not only get to teach children essential social-emotional life skills, but the kids are also learning what it means to support each other. 

In the four short months of being in this position, it has been so rewarding to witness the students learning and applying these methods. Even when they are upset, they are learning that in the end, things will be okay.  The heart of the SEL program is to help our students learn that even if they can’t control their circumstances, they can control their responses and futures. 

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I feel so thankful to be a part of an agency that creates a lasting hope for the youth of South Chattanooga.  I’m excited to see how the SEL program will continue to impact the kids in our community.


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Grace Miller

Grace earned her Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. She is currently working towards graduating with her Master’s from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in May 2020. 




Posted by The Beth

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As we continue our relief efforts to children, families, and adults in South Chattanooga, we are in need of snack items, canned goods, and sanitary products. 

If you would like to help, please visit our donation page, choose an amount to give, and select "COVID-19 Relief Efforts" as the gift designation.  You can also text giverelief to 243725.

You can also learn more about how we're serving the community during this time by visiting our COVID-19 Page


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