Non-Profits Adapt to Coronavirus Pandemic

Sharen Duke Headshot
Sharen Duke, executive director and CEO of Alliance for Positive Change
Photo courtesy The Alliance for Positive Change

As New Yorkers are struggling and coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, non-profits are doing their best to help the community.

Alliance for Positive Change and BronxWorks are among the organizations that are working around the clock and providing services for the borough.

BronxWorks offers food, shelter and emotional support for toddlers through seniors.

Eileen Torres, executive director of BronxWorks, said all hands are on deck right now. Torres noted that as much as the pandemic is impacting their clients, it affecting her staff as well. Many of her employees have kids who are now at home, so finding childcare is an issue.

“We’ve been trying our best to manage with a short number of staff,” she said.

According to Torres, they are open all week preparing meals and seniors can come in and get them as they normally do. She stressed with high food insecurity in the borough it is imperative that they make sure all of their clients are getting food.

The organization works with people that have chronic illnesses and those who live in shelters, so they have been constantly checking on them to make sure they are healthy and okay.

Eileen Torres, executive director of BronxWorksPhoto Courtesy BronxWorks

Alliance for Positive Change, which assists people with HIV/AIDS, chronic health and substance use challenges has been providing services to the Bronx for 30 years. Sharen Duke, executive director and CEO spoke with the Bronx Times about what they are doing to help their 6,000 clients, nearly 30 percent of who live in the Bronx.

“Overall there’s a real sense of fear because there’s so much that’s unknown,” Duke said. “We need to come together as a community.”

Duke said Alliance is offering pre-packaged grab and go meals that people can pick up, is delivering medication and doing counseling by Facetime or phone.

She noted that many people have expressed concerns that they may not be able to afford rent or pay their bills. Duke hopes the government not only helps the airlines and hospitals, but non–profits as well.

“Any stimulus package that the government does must include non-profit organizations,” she said. “We are small businesses and we too are suffering not being able to meet services and we’ve had to reduce the ways in which we do our work.”

These are challenging times for everyone, whether you are rich or poor, she said. But for those with mental health, depression or financial issues this can hit them even harder, she explained.

A lot of her clients live paycheck to paycheck and often don’t know where their next meal will be. Many of them don’t know how they will get through this, she remarked.

“How do you keep mental health and emotional wellness when everything around you is topsy-turvy,” she said. “We’re certainly doing our best for the people that we serve. Even in a city that never sleeps it’s hard to find a restaurant that does delivery.”










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