Fall Retreat Highlights
Earlier this month, ISCU held its annual retreat, with much of the discussion focusing on our response to the pandemic, our assessment of the needs going forward, and new responsive measures that have been implemented since the pandemic hit in March. Below are some highlights: Pandemic Response Summary:
ISCU collaborates with more than 30 community and faith-based organizations
Since March 2020, we have been delivering groceries and medical supplies to an average of 360 families weekly, in collaboration with our community partners
ISCU’s guides, or guias, along with our volunteer caseworkers, have managed and implemented pandemic assistance funds from Catholic Charities, the Latino Policy Forum, the Regional Planning Commission, and Cunningham Township to bring $40,000 in emergency funds to approximately 90 families between April and September
We have provided rent, utility and repatriation expenses from our own donated funds to over 30 families who may not qualify for public assistance programs (an average of $700/family for a total of about $60,000)
In cooperation with our Immigrant Emergency Assistance Fund (IEAF) partners, Bend the Arc of CU, Immigrant Justice Task Force of the UUUC Church and the CU Immigration Forum, we have funded emergency relief for 14 more families during August and September.
Our Free Store has provided baby and toddler clothing, household goods and furniture to over 50 families
Assessment of Needs:
More clients than ever before demand systematic follow-up and expansion of family liaison/case work. ISCU and our partner organizations have connected to nearly 1,500 family members with deliveries of groceries and health supplies, assistance for rent and utilities, and other emergency assistance since the onslaught of the Pandemic.
As we add more volunteers and partners, we recognize the need for centralized coordination, communication and relationship nurturing
The increase in rental assistance needs resulting from service industry employment shrinkage requires more funds to keep families sheltered
Quarantine needs and high rents spotlight lack of affordable, safe, single-family dwellings
Mass food insecurity requires that we have constant up-to-date contact with partners to minimize service overlaps and gaps, while also making and receiving referrals
Children at home place higher demands on food, internet connectivity, parent literacy, childcare, and the ability to work, requiring excellent communication with partners
The creation of the Pandemic Response Fund requires maintenance, administration and delivery of aid
IEAF requires shared administration, fundraising and delivery of aid
New Responsive Measures Implemented Since March 2020
We have hired a primary part-time guia (guide) and a secondary part-time guia to carry out intake and assistance applications for families. Previously, the family liaisons did the bulk of the work, but the volume is now too great for strictly volunteer casework and many of the assistance grants have a limited timeframe for eligibility.
Our two drivers have been working many extra hours to meet the huge demand for delivery of food and health supplies, as well as furniture, beds and household goods from the Immigrant Services Store. Currently immigrant families have limited access to our store and offices due to restrictions established by CUPHD during the pandemic.
Our executive director is working 20-30 more hours per week beyond his half-time appointment in order to meet expanded administrative demands
With coalitions expanded greatly during the pandemic and many looking to ISCU for leadership, we have had to be both the boots on the ground and the consultants
We have had to prioritize food and rent as the areas of greatest need during the pandemic
ISCU was selected to manage the IEAF, adding to our workload
We have shifted our legal assistance to referrals and partnerships primarily with the C-U Immigration Project.