One year ago, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona Helping Hands (“AHH”) locked our doors. We made the difficult decision to close down the facility, allowing our small staff to work remotely, while hoping to keep both clients and volunteers safe. That decision was very short-lived. Within days, Mike Faust, the Director of the Arizona Department of Child Safety was on the phone, asking how they could assist AHH to ensure that our services providing essential needs for children in our state’s foster care system could resume. Through change and innovation, we immediately began serving families again, but those front doors remained closed.
We spent most of the last 12 months providing support through no-contact servicing. We would place requested products outside the doors of our warehouse to be picked up by foster families. While somewhat effective, this process took away the direct one-on-one interaction with foster parents. We didn’t have the opportunity to ask, “How else can we help?” or “What else do you need?” Our volunteer army, comprised mostly of senior citizens, also disappeared because of COVID. All of these changes combined to eat away at the morale of the AHH team. With families not entering the building, we missed out on the joy of seeing Eli’s smile, or the tears in Meg’s eyes when she realized she could receive much needed support from us for the arduous journey of raising her nieces and nephew.
What a difference a year makes! Over the past few weeks, we have reopened our doors and invited foster families once again to step inside our building. We have been able to ask those questions such as “How else can we help?”, and we have filled the SUVs and pickup trucks with clothing, diapers, books, school supplies and more to make the path of fostering children easier for all who open their hearts and homes to boys and girls who have experienced abuse or neglect.