June 04, 2020

I-CERV Partnership Key to Providing Food Security During COVID-19

From Edgar Masmela, Partnerships Director at Friends of the Children–Seattle.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, many people were [faced] with a high level of uncertainty that added pressure [to] shifting their daily routines. For the families that we serve at Friends of the Children–Seattle, these changes force them to seek additional support in getting help with basic essentials needed to survive. Friends–Seattle is dedicated to closing the opportunity gap! We employ and train full time, salaried professionals who provide high quality, consistent mentoring to the youth we serve. Our professional mentors support and guide youth in and out of the classroom to develop and attain goals. Research shows that having support from at least one long-term adult can have a positive effect on a child’s life.

When I first connected with Tasnim about our partnership [with Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering (I-CERV)], I felt as if the stars were aligning, Friends–Seattle just completed a needs assessment with our families. The number one request for support was food. Families felt the need to access more food, with schools being canceled and youth at home all day. Even with us providing information on additional community resources, families were still in need, [so] Friends–Seattle decided to help by providing weekly food bags. Each week our professional mentors connect with the families to offer food bags and other essential needs. Along with our community partners, Friends–Seattle operates Friends Friday Food Bags. Mentors deliver bags of food that [have a minimum] of 4 meals to our families while practicing safe social distancing. When we originally started the program, we would average 30/40 bags; now, with the need growing, our average is 80 bags per week.

Working with the SMC & AKYSB Seattle Jamatkhana I-CERV team has been a true miracle, the donations have helped fill a void in our family's lives that otherwise would have been a challenge for us to fill. To date, the I-CERV group has helped fill over 400 bags of food for our families. With the partnership, our families didn’t have to worry about their next meal or jeopardizing their health by going to the store. Its opportunities like this will make a lasting impact on our youth and community.

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“Working with [I-CERV] has been a true miracle the donations have helped fill a void in our family's lives that otherwise would have been a challenge for us to fill.”