At the latest Southern Chester County Opportunity Network (SCCON) Zoom community meeting, a strong message was left with each of us -- there are many opportunities to become a community volunteer. The message that followed is that making the choice to become involved not only helps others, but can actually help us during this time of feeling isolated during the pandemic.
At the meeting, Kate Daneker, the facilitator for SCCON, provided a PowerPoint presentation of the collaborative work that has been done over the past three months to address food scarcity, rental assistance and school re-entry. Volunteers who have become involved have once again brought to life the quote by Margaret Mead, “ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
Most of the volunteer work is being done virtually through weekly meetings that bring together representatives of the system to work together. To address the challenge of the recent school virtual and hybrid learning,school personnel and agencies that have close relationships with families in Southern Chester County are the ones that present the issues families are facing.
The Parent Education Work Group develops projects that address these issues and provides ongoing support to these vulnerable families. Volunteers who are interested in the field of education are welcome to be part of this dynamic bi-weekly Zoom interaction and problem solving.
Some of the projects that have already been implemented involve collaborating with food distribution sites, where flyers are being handed out with resource information about basic needs, as well as guidance about setting up virtual and hybrid schooling. Videos have been made in Spanish and Mam (Guatemalan language) to provide resource information on Facebook.Presentations have been given at a Spanish-speaking church to emphasize the importance of school.
Community Learning Pods are being organized to help parents, who need supervision for their children while they work. Faith communities and others are opening their doors to serve as sites for students, who are engaging virtual learning. Health and safety protocols that follow the COVID prevention guidelines have been set-up and in-person volunteers provide supervision for the students.More volunteers are always needed!
Technology has shown up as one of the greatest barriers in providing equitable education This not only involves internet connectivity but bandwidth that is needed in the homes for virtual schooling several students in one family. Jim Mercante, Chair of the TechnologyWork Group is committed to working on a longer-term strategy that will advocate for affordable and accessible internet services for each and all.Volunteers interested in technology are needed to join this advocacy journey.
Carrie Freeman, Executive Director of United Way of Southern Chester County praised the way the community joins together to make things happen. She points out that much of the work is being done by volunteers who are not being paid, but out of the goodness of their hearts are staying involved by giving their time, talent and treasure. She emphasized that Southern Chester County goes beyond “we”---a group of individuals doing the work---to a whole community working together making a collective impact.
As a follow-up, Carrie Freeman encouraged attendees to send information about the SCCON website (www.sccnetwork.org) to friends who are at a breaking point of feeling helpless and depressed with the COVID 19 situation. Carrie states; “You can help yourself from feeling helpless by helping others. The website provides a menu of choices to become involved in a meaningful way and help bring spirit back into your life.”