When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we teamed up with both new and longstanding HFH collaborators to support our families and frontline staff. They provided meals and masks; one-on-one tutors and holiday toys.
HFH staff kicked off the year exchanging ideas and sharing best practices at the 2020 ICPH Beyond Housing Conference. Several HFH staff members, including Michael Chapman, Director of K-12 Afterschool & Recreation at Saratoga, Annamaria Santoro, Senior Director of Operations, Tierra Gunther, Programs Associate, and Michael Fahy, Administrator of Saratoga, presented their expertise at the conference.
In February, HFH Executive Director John Greenwood participated in a panel on family homelessness at the UN Commission on Social Development, while staff at all four HFH Family Residences connected with local organizations at our annual Resource Fair. Later in the year, Annamaria Santoro, Senior Director of Operations, presented HFH’s model of services on webinar by UNANIMA International.
“During the last several months, we have all experienced a new type of isolation that is especially difficult for children and youth who are missing the in-person connections with their teachers and friends. It has been wonderful to connect the HFH youth to the PAL students who are so thoughtful, caring, experienced and reliable.”
For years, our friends at KidCare, the Village Community School, Knock Knock Give a Sock, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry at Columbia, and others have provided thoughtful support to families at HFH and 2020 was no exception. Far from inhibiting their support, the unique challenges posed by the pandemic helped spur creativity in our work with collaborators, leading to new initiatives, campaigns, and services.
Many HFH collaborators like DMF Youth and Lineage Yoga, who had provided classes to HFH students before the pandemic, stayed connected with our students through virtual classes. When NYC Schools closed, we teamed up with the UC San Diego PAL Program for a new collaboration, which provided virtual one-on-one volunteer tutoring to children at HFH.
Normally, the holiday season at HFH is filled with large community events, toy giveaways, and parties. This year, in lieu of parties, we invited HFH supporters to bring joy directly to children at HFH by purchasing holiday gifts through our Amazon wish list. We received an overwhelming response, thanks to our supporters, many of whom spread the word to their friends through social media.