The Garden of Dreams Foundation recently established a $1 million grant program to assist its partner organizations during COVID-19, all of whom serve low-income areas in the Bronx and beyond.
Of Garden of Dreams’ 30 partner organizations, 26 applied for a portion of the funds and organizations such as Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCo) ($100,600), Covenant House ($24,000) and SCAN-Harbor ($64,650) were recipients of the monies.
SCAN-Harbor provides programming and assistance for families and children living in Harlem, East Harlem and the South Bronx.The organization will be using their grant money for the following services:
- to support the launch and customization of virtual education activities for youth
- hiring additional clinicians and trainers to establish interactive telehealth services
- training people to help kids express their feelings about the COVID-19 crisis via visual projective art
- purchasing laptops and software for its staff
- hiring additional IT help to support remote work
- fund staff to build food distribution efforts, identifying sources for food and sites that can act as distribution locations.
“The most important thing for us is the mental health issue,” said SCAN-Harbor Executive Director, Lew Zuchman. “We’re very concerned about what’s going to happen to our young people and families. We don’t want to wait until people start jumping out the window.”
Zuchman explained that the impact of COVID-19 is far worse than September 11. No one knows when it will end, people are getting sick, dying, out of work and millions are stuck home.
He is in not negating the high amount of fatalities, but stressed this new unexpected stress can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide.
In times like these, he said that people need to talk to others. Things will only get worse in a month as temperatures rise and people are stuck inside.
“I think people really need to be cognizant of the fact that this is going to take a real toll,” he said.
Renee Avery, deputy executive director of SCAN-Harbor, said another issue is many families in the south Bronx face food insecurities and don’t have access to facemasks. She and her staff are working tirelessly to distribute food and hand out masks.
She realized many people are struggling and she and Zuchman expressed gratitude to the Garden of Dreams for the financial assistance.
“They’re committed to the work that we do,” she said. “We don’t just wait for a family to reach out to us.”