SAVANNAH, GA – April 24, 2020 – Greenbriar Children’s Center has always made it a priority to offer top-notch care and services to the families it serves. But the strains put on Greenbriar’s clients by the COVID-19 pandemic are proving difficult for many to contend with, so the organization’s employees are going above and beyond to ensure families’ safety, health and comfort.
Catherine Gray, who serves as a social worker and case manager in Greenbriar’s Family Preservation program, said she and her colleagues are doing all they can to help and, at times, that means going an extra mile – or even two. For example, one child who attends Windy’s Pre-school has been unable to attend the virtual classes and lessons the facility’s teachers have been offering, due to his family’s work schedules. So, the child would not feel left out, one instructor at Windy’s has been occasionally calling the child in the evening to read him bedtime stories.
In another instance, one of the families Gray assists was in dire need of Pampers Pull-Ups for a child. The child’s mother told Gray that Pull-Ups were out of stock at most stores, and of the few who did have some packages available, the size her child needed was sold out.
“The mom had been using hand towels and plastic grocery bags to diaper her baby, trying to emulate that same cloth diaper/plastic training pants system that moms used so many decades ago,” Gray said. “I was determined to find some for her, so I searched until I finally found another agency that had Pull-Ups in the right size and I brought the mother three big packages. I practiced proper social distancing, though, and just stropped them at her door. She was so grateful. I was just happy to help.”
Gray had another client who was scheduled to attend a disability hearing in court for one of her family members. She’d been instructed by the court to wear proper protective gear to the hearing, including a mask and gloves. However, the woman did not have a mask and couldn’t find them in stock at any stores. She shared her problem with Gray, who rose to the challenge.
“She had gloves, but no mask and couldn’t find one. So, I called her on the phone and told her about the tutorials I’d seen to make your own, and I walked her through how to do it over the phone. We talked about the materials she had around her house that might work, and she was able to put one together using bandanas,” Gray said. “And not only that, the last I talked to her, she was still making more masks for her kids and her mom. And I shared those DIY tutorials on face-mask making with a lot of families who are my clients, so they’d all know how, too.”
Home-school is proving to be a tough task for many parents these days, so Gray has gone to great length to ensure all the families in Greenbriar’s Family Preservation program are doing OK with it. She holds virtual parent-teacher conferences to be certain the children are making progress and completing their work. Recently, the found that a junior high student in one of the families she works with was two weeks behind on assignments, so she called the girl’s mother to inquire about the issue.
“It turns out, their internet had been turned off, and they thought that was the only way for the child to access her schoolwork. I let the mom know that you could go to the public school system and pick up a physical packet of work for students if you’re unable to get the assignments online,” Gray said. “Plus, I also let her know that Comcast has a special program right now called Internet Essentials where, if you fall within a certain low-income bracket, you can qualify for $10-per-month internet services. She applied for that, and now they have a packet of work and their internet is back on.”
Gray contacted the girl’s teacher and asked if she could make up some of the assignments she missed during that two-week period. The teacher agreed to a modified plan to allow the student to complete most of the work, and she’ll still receive a grade for it.
Gray’s next tasks involves procuring a bicycle to help one of her young clients get an adequate amount of outdoor exercise with his sibling.
“I had a client just today who told me her kids like to get out of the house for some fresh air. One of the kids has a bike, but the other does not, and it’s an older child. So, I’m going to Greenbriar’s main building tomorrow to see if there are some extra bikes there that I might be able to get for my client,” Gray said.
Sometimes, people donate large toys such as bikes to Greenbriar, so there’s a good chance Gray will be able to make her client’s wish come true. However, there are plenty of other children and families in Greenbriar’s programs who are still in need, and the nonprofit organization would like nothing better than to be able to provide for them as COVID-19 continues to present new challenges and obstacles. Anyone who would like to make a donation to Greenbriar is welcome to do so and know that it will be put to very good use. For more information or to contribute, please visit www.greenbriarchildrenscenter.org or call 912-234-3431.
Greenbriar Children’s Center is a nonprofit organization that promotes the healthy development of children and the strengthening of families through services provided. These services include early childhood education, family services, emergency shelter, and Project Safe Place.
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