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Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services is responding to families and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis tragically spreading throughout the United States and the world. In the midst of this chaos, PCHAS programs and services bring comfort to families that are more anxious than ever before. In fact, in the days, weeks and months to come, we anticipate an ever greater need for our programs and services which specialize in helping children and families heal from traumatic experiences.
People who feel lost and unsure will be able to turn to PCHAS for comfort and guidance. This will include young girls like Janet who was frightened and hurt after being removed from her birth family because her parents abused her and her siblings. It will include young men like Adam who aged out of foster care and have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. It will include single fathers like Travis who was scared about his family’s future after losing his job (like so many in this pandemic) and wondering how he would provide food and shelter for his children. It will include women like Jillian with unplanned pregnancies wondering if they are safe to visit with their doctors. You see, all of the children and families we serve are already living with tremendous stress. Now, due to the coronavirus, they must cope with something that feels totally out of their control. But we can help them.
Rather than pulling back, we hope to increase our level of support to children and families who are feeling incredibly vulnerable at this time. And we need your help to make that happen.
We need your financial support and prayers now more than ever.
As we continue our services, I want to assure you that we are taking every precaution recommended by the CDC to keep our staff and those we serve safe and healthy. This includes calling ahead of scheduled in-home visits to our foster and counseling clients to see if any family member is exhibiting signs of illness. If they are, visits will be conducted by phone and teleconference.
Staff serving children and families on our residential campuses, including our foster care village in Itasca, Texas and transitional living and single parent family homes in Texas and Missouri, are also following CDC guidelines and regulations. They are now implementing teleconference counseling and training, and promoting healthy hygiene.
Staff providing community-based services, such as family preservation and mentoring, are keeping the children and families they serve, and themselves, safe and healthy. Mentors who normally visit with children in schools are now using phone meetings and teleconference conversations. Staff providing family preservation services are being given increased assistance funds to make sure families receive the help they need.
PCHAS is implementing ways to keep you, our supporters and volunteers, safe and healthy. In keeping with CDC recommendations, we have cancelled our spring luncheons scheduled for Springfield, Missouri, Houston, Texas and Fort Worth, Texas. Normally, these events raise $320,000 for the care and support of 4,500 PCHAS children and families.
Until further notice, we have instructed our development officers to cease all in-person donor visits, church visits, celebration events and monthly informational gatherings. While we are working to slow the spread of the coronavirus, I have asked our development team to remain available by phone should any of you have any questions about our programs or this invitation for financial support and prayers.
For the time being, we’ve also asked all of our volunteers to cease their services. We’re also keeping our staff safe and healthy too. Most of our staff able to work remotely are now working from home and ceasing all travel. Staff, like you, are washing their hands and being careful. We hope and pray that all of these social distancing efforts will slow the virus.
Our 2020 luncheon theme is “Building Better Futures” and we intend to keep doing just that! As Jesus taught us to focus on the future, so will we focus on getting through this trial together with strength and compassion. We will not dwell on deficits, but on our many blessings.
At this year’s spring luncheons, I was planning to speak with you about the many ways we continue to provide permanent homes for children and self-sufficiency for parents and adults. After hearing from me and some of our clients, past and present, we were planning to show you our new video. I hope you will take the time to view it by visiting pchas.org/2020video. I know you’ll be as moved as I was after hearing these unique client stories. Each was scared about their futures, but we were able to calm their fears and help them discover their inner strengths.
Now, more than ever, children whose lives have been affected by poverty, stress, abuse and neglect need us to shelter and protect them.
In Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica, he closes with these words which seem especially relevant to today’s situation: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.”
President and CEO