Although HOME WORKS! had supported Patrick Henry Downtown Academy for five years on a smaller scale, the pandemic created a host of new needs. Rather than making assumptions, we talked to the principal and teachers about what was most urgent and necessary. We used this needs assessment to our guide conversations.
We also had to find out specifically what parents and families needed. For that, we designed this survey.
Based on what we heard from the school and the families, we identified many gaps that would impact learning. We knew that resources that were already available in the community, and local businesses and non-profits would be willing to help us if they knew what we needed. We would only have to ask!
We hired an intern to compile a comprehensive Community Resource Directory for St. Louis containing contact information and details on how each organization serves its constituents. No doubt your community has similar organizations. The list includes food pantries, thrift stores, help lines, employment-training centers, legal aid services, mental health resources, and more.
Volunteers were the most crucial piece of our success. We looked for people who were dependable, persistent, compassionate, and flexible. We also appreciated active listeners who could anticipate what was needed and recommended solutions as problems came up.
At Patrick Henry, volunteers worked for as few as 1-2 hours a week. Most teachers and other school personnel were already stretched and didn’t have time for the crucial work they did.
We recruited and trained them. And deployed them to where they were needed most.
- Clean classrooms and closets at the beginning of the school year to help teachers get their classrooms organized
- Assist with moving old equipment, desks, bookcases, mobile laptop charger cabinets, and broken furniture
- Deliver school supplies to families who were unable to come to the school building for pickup
- Help find “missing” students in the summer months
- Make weekly attendance calls to remind children to login or come to school—and identify and report barriers that were hindering school attendance
- Visit remote-learning teachers to see what assistance they needed
- Pair with Patrick Henry staff to conduct porch visits with families and troubleshoot technology issues
- Call Patrick Henry families to remind them of in-person requirements for Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) testing