A Personal Note From Our Founder

Sloane Davidson reflects on COVID-19 and how Hello Neighbor continues to respond

March 24, 2020

Last week was impossibly hard. I’m so proud of the Hello Neighbor team and how we’ve come together and stayed connected and responsive to the needs of our families in the face of COVID-19.

We are a resilient community–and we certainly are a community. What brings me great hope is the way that neighbors are helping neighbors during this time. This includes the best support of all, which is staying inside and not going anywhere. I am full of hope for better times ahead.

At Hello Neighbor I strive to bring an attitude of gratitude to the work every single day. Working alongside our refugee families has taught me that no obstacle is too big to overcome. Refugees have been through so much and are so resilient and constantly have a positive attitude.

With that in mind, last week we were in full triage mode. That included:

  • Emergency phone calls with the city, county and state
  • Emergency phone calls with two refugee and immigrant collaboratives of which we are members
  • Organizing emergency phone calls with the Hello Neighbor National Network to learn about responses around the country and talk about how we can collectively make a difference
  • Pulling together the various resources being released (daily) on how to support low-income and out-of-work communities and summarizing how it could be communicated to our refugee families

It Takes a Village

Hannah Somers worked diligently on daily communication with our new matches. They have just begun their time together and she worked on talking to them about how they can stay connected–digitally–during this time. (See photos of some of our new matches.)

Jordan Chepke, Makaela Press and Calli White worked together to postpone or cancel all of the programs Hello Neighbor had scheduled for the next month, including upcoming custom food orders and our annual meeting for mid-April. The team worked on how to move our mentoring program online including releasing our first Mentor Challenge–fort-building in your living room! We all need some levity during this time. If you want to join the fun post your fort to Instagram and tag us @helloneighborhq with the hashtag #hellochallenge .

Our interpreters, Hiba, Kazam, Deborah and others communicated with each family across our five cohorts to understand their pressing needs and how we could provide support.

We have heard the stress in our refugee families’ voices not knowing where April rent money will come from or how to pay for utilities. We put together a fast action plan looking for all of the city, county and national resources talking about food, access to online learning, rent and utility support, unemployment, and more. The concerns our families have are certainly echoed by millions across the country. The difference is our families are facing language and cultural barriers. It’s been a hard week on everyone.

We also said goodbye to our four spring interns. Thank you Chandra, Johanna, Justin, and Min for your contributions. You will be missed!

Head Up, Hearts Forward

It’s been a heart-forward and intentional effort to be a calming voice within our community while keeping our staff safe and at home. The financial burden of this pandemic will be felt by everyone, including nonprofits. I’m tightening the belt of our already squeezed budget to be able to maintain the level of services we offer to the community.

I personally am working from home with my two boys (1 and 4 years old) under my feet. My husband and I are splitting the day for now so we can each work for half the day. It’s been exhausting, but nothing compared to what many around the country are experiencing and nothing compared to what our refugee families have experienced. I consider myself lucky to have a home, running water, electricity and food in my pantry.

This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. At Hello Neighbor we are prepared for that. I know we can do it with your ongoing support. So many of you have asked how you can help. Stay tuned.

Please let us know what you are doing to help a neighbor (any and all neighbors), how your business is supporting the community, how you’re keeping your kids busy and any inspiration messages you want to send along. Send us a note at info@helloneighbor.io.

  • announcement
  • pittsburgh

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