The South Baldwin Chamber Foundation (Chamber Foundation) serves 10 public and 2 private schools in South Baldwin County: Elberta Elementary School, Elberta Middle School, Elberta High School, Foley Elementary School, Foley Intermediate School, Foley Middle School, Foley High School, Magnolia School, Saint Benedict Catholic School, Snook Christian Academy, Summerdale School, and Swift School. Since 2003, we have provided financial support, student programs, and classroom grants to enrich education, develop leadership, and better our community.
We enjoy serving the schools and coming together with hands on interaction to make South Baldwin County a stronger, more vibrant place to live. Unfortunately, the face of how those interactions occur has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are working together with our schools and the community to define a new normal.
With new guidelines for social distancing and precaution to safeguard the community’s health, the nature of education has been altered. Thankfully, our Baldwin County Public Schools implemented one computer for every student years ago and teachers have the ability to teach students virtually. Learning will continue and online access will be available for students throughout the summer as well. Students who do not have access to internet have been instructed to let their school know and resources have been provided to them to: a) have internet access or b) to have printed information given to the student. However, this is not a cure all and it cannot meet all of the needs provided through schools to students and their families on a day to day basis. Essential needs such as counseling, social work, nutrition, social interaction, emotional and mental health, and physical education cannot be met “online”.
In reaching out to our schools and community partners, we have determined the specific needs during this unprecedented time and are learning how they are being met and how the community can assist. Some of these needs include: lack of access to fresh food, lack of access to mental health services, lower income or loss of employment, loss of childcare, and vulnerability to abusive situations. Many students depend on their school for daily nutrition, counseling, emotional and social support. Schools not only provide education to students, but also a safe place for them to stay while parents or guardians go to work. Many of these provisions diminished overnight when schools were forced to close in March.
Here are some of the programs in place, how they can be accessed, and how donations can be made:
First and foremost, if a student has a need that is normally met with a school counselor or social worker, the counselors and social workers will continue to work with students on a one on one basis through the virtual platform designated by that school. Please, contact your school for more information.
Feeding the Gulf Coast is an essential service providing meals through the Central Gulf coast as COVID-19 continues to impact our service area. The threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus) adds even more pressure to the already strained finances of those we serve and so many more. We are actively working to meet the increase in need in our service area. At this time, we are finding that families are faced with an increased need for food due to school closures, inability to work, or facing self-quarantine requirements. Additionally, our food donations are down significantly.
For children, 18 and younger, who need meals during school closures: The Find Help feature is the best source of information at this time for families and individuals seeking assistance. For additional sites, please see the following:
Alabama (Children must be present to receive meals): http://www.breakforaplate.com/
Florida (Children must be present to receive meals): https://www.summerbreakspot.org/
Mississippi (Children must be present to receive meals): https://www.mdek12.org/OCN
We are maintaining regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 8-4. Please call (888) 704-FOOD if you need assistance or have any questions.
In addition, BCEC has continued to work with the seven education foundations, providing them with information and support to file for the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Several foundations were faced with canceling fundraising events following the Governor’s stay-at-home order. Our foundations and schools rely heavily on the generosity of our businesses community but have suspended all soliciting at a time when our need to mobilize resources in support of our schools and families will be more important than ever. If you are able, please consider a donation: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/BCEC_Donation_Form
Catholic Social Services of Baldwin County helps the entire community regardless of religious affiliation. Emergency assistance for food, clothing, rent, utilities and more are available. Contact Catholic Social Service at 251-947-2293 for more information. To make a donation to Catholic Social Services go to cssbaldwin.org and click donate.
The United Way of Baldwin County has established a Community Crisis Fund in response to the COVID-19 outbreak with a goal of increasing access to food and emergency assistance. They are partnering with emergency aid agencies as funding comes available to assist families to fill in the financial gaps government funding and programs may leave. The disaster line is 2-1-1 and can be dialed from anywhere 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To make a donation to the United Way go to unitedway-bc.org and click on the COVID-19 link.
The Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation (JCMF) provides training, funding, and support for Peer Helper Programs across Baldwin County. Currently, JCMF is working to expand peer helper curriculum for all students K-12th grades. This curriculum is being prepared for remote access so that students can receive help virtually as social distancing guidelines continue to be implemented. Until these new processes are available, the Youth Mental Health First Aid training has been put on hold. Prior to COVID-19, all Peer Helper programs used face to face interaction. The Foundation continues to assist students by using social media for positive messaging, coping strategies, and providing resources to students. For more information, go to: jennifermoorefoundation.com/resources/hotlines. To donate to The Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation, go to jennifermoorefoundation.com/donate/.