BHITC’s COVID-19 Response Efforts

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Over the past 7 weeks, COVID-19 has caused BHITC to rethink and relearn what it looks like to love neighbors, care for the newcomer and come alongside the most vulnerable in the city. It’s been a season of great challenge for so many, but BHITC also sees the opportunity for the Church to #riseup and embody the love of Christ towards those disproportionately affected by this pandemic.

God has allowed a small and nimble organization to respond in some meaningful ways over the past few weeks for those involved in BHITC’s various ministries. In addition to those detailed below, BHITC’s after-school tutoring sessions are happening via Zoom, a new devotional series called “#RiseUp” launched as a bi-weekly email to equip and encourage volunteers across the organization’s ministries and a new partnership is underway with Metro West CDO and Councilwoman Santana to begin calling and connecting thousands of elderly people within the Clark-Fulton/Stockyards (CFSY) neighborhoods to needed resources.

Thank you for helping to make all of this possible by your giving!

Collaborative Support for Families Amidst COVID-19

One of the major fallouts of COVID-19 has been the closure of schools and the complex situation in which parents now find themselves – particularly families in our most vulnerable neighborhoods and newcomers navigating unfamiliar terrain. This new reality adds a challenging dynamic to so many parents who once depended on school meals, academic support and the availability school created for day-jobs. That’s why now, perhaps more than ever, the 100+ kids and families served through BHITC’s education enrichment programming at Halle School of Inquiry and The Hope Center are in need of support.

Starting last week, BHITC began facilitating an effort between several area churches, with leadership support from King’s Church, as well as gifts from Cuyahoga Valley Church, Korean Central Presbyterian Church, Messiah Lutheran Church, Parkside Westside and Renew Communities to provide “Blessing Bags” to every student and family at Halle School of Inquiry and The Hope Center. Delivery of bags began just this week and will be delivered weekly for the next month. They include healthy food items, toiletries and academic materials. In a time of crisis, these bags will make tangible the presence and love of God in the city.

The Hope Center Helps Refugees Navigate COVID-19

Newcomers to the US face culture, language and resource challenges among other things, let alone added fears and reminders of past trauma caused by COVID-19.  That’s why in April, Cleveland’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund awarded the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland (RSC) a $50,000 grant to support refugees experiencing extreme hardship due to the pandemic. BHITC is one of 14 members in the RSC.

This spring and summer, The Hope Center’s staff will work alongside other agencies to identify refugee households experiencing continued unemployment or other financial challenges due to the COVID-19.  BHITC will help these families access emergency cash assistance from the grant funds, as well as short-term employment opportunities with member agencies and willing employers.

Crisis Response in Clark-Fulton & Stockyards Amidst COVID-19

Imagine the daily challenges many low-income families already face. Then, add the reality of COVID-19 and the economic turmoil it is causing for those facing jobs loss and ineligibility for unemployment benefits. This pandemic is exacerbating the challenges and instability that many families in BHITC’s targeted neighborhoods were already facing. In light of this crisis, BHITC partners with a number of neighborhood organizations to provide relief in the form of 50 percent forgivable loans up to $1500 for those with a qualifying emergency expense. The COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund and Cleveland Foundation made this work possible.

This spring and summer, BHITC’s community development staff will work alongside Metro West Community Development Organization (CDO), Hebrew Free Loan Association and Community Financial Centers to identify households in the neighborhood in need of emergency cash relief due to COVID-19. BHITC will help these families access emergency cash assistance from the grant funds and once residents complete their 50 percent repayment, more loans will be made available to neighbors.

The Hope Center Responds to Immediate Community Needs
In addition to the measures above, staff at The Hope Center responded immediately in creative ways to meet the needs of friends from all over the world. Though classes could no longer gather, people shifted to virtual, social distance options to continue important services such as helping individuals file for unemployment, helping just as many FIND employment, offer citizenship and school-age tutoring online, conduct immigration appointments by video calls, check in often by phone, deliver food to those especially at-risk and provide materials about the virus in various languages.

Additionally, staff assembled and delivered at-home Easter egg hunt kits for 117 kids and 46 families the week before Easter! The week following Easter, staff delivered 68 lilies to families and volunteers from The Hope Center, thanks to Grace C&MA Church for the lily donation and providing another opportunity bless friends and families at The Hope Center!

Making the Best Thrift Store in CLE Even Better While Closed!
At Common Threads, in April while the store was closed, all fixtures were moved, merchandise was disinfected, floors were deep cleaned and the entire sales floor was reset.

This deep clean was conducted by minimal staff and those who voluntarily elected to do essential functions such as disinfecting and inventory management, which are permitted under the Governor’s orders. Thanks to the amazing store staff for the tremendous hard work to make Common Threads even greater and more ready for customers whenever it is safe to reopen! The store will reopen on Tuesday, May 12!

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