“Mateo,” a fourth grader, joined one of our Safe Youth Projects during the pandemic. It was hard for him to get to know everyone through Zoom meetings, so he was a bit shy at first. The program coordinator could tell that he was smart, kind, and respectful, and she did her best to make him feel at ease.
The program coordinator also encouraged him to set up in-person appointments once we could safely meet one-on-one at the center. As soon as the two met and got to know each other, Mateo began opening up and sharing more during the virtual calls. Now, Mateo sets up frequent appointments for tutoring, asks thoughtful questions, and is eager to work and complete his assignments.
The program coordinator also met Mateo’s mother, Martha, and learned that Martha’s hours working at a local restaurant had been cut due to COVID-19 restrictions. Martha’s income had decreased significantly and she confided in the program coordinator that she was worried about being able to cover all of her expenses that month.
The program coordinator leveraged resources from Second Story’s Family Resource Center and began sending Mateo home with groceries twice a week. Martha and Mateo receive rice, beans, canned goods, cereal, cooking oil, corn flour, bread, pasta, and, when it’s available, fresh produce, dairy, and meat. The program coordinator also gave Martha information for Fairfax County’s Coordinated Services so that Martha could receive help paying her rent and other bills until she resumes full-time work. We’re thankful that we have been able to support Mateo’s entire family throughout the pandemic.