Finding the Good in Difficult Days: Sisters and Associates Reflect on a Pandemic
Sisters Barbara Busch and Whitney Schieltz discuss how Working In Neighborhoods (WIN), an organization empowering people to make informed choices for themselves and their neighborhoods through community building, home ownership, and economic learning, is adapting to the new realities faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barbara Busch, executive director
“COVID-19 has required us to pivot our services, especially with the digital divide in our communities. In our work with the Beekman Corridor Project we have begun, in consultation with our residents, to train our constituents to use cell phones, computers and tablets to access the Internet and convene our community organizations. We are also currently working on funding 40 tablets and Internet access for families in the Beekman Corridor who have neither, so they can continue to participate in meetings, conversations and actions regarding the future of their communities.”
Whitney Schieltz, housing development
Before the pandemic shut everything down, WIN had begun a new program called Produce Pop-Ups. Once a month we would receive a large donation of fresh produce, dry goods, and other miscellaneous items from Freestore Foodbank and allow low-income residents to come pick out whatever they wanted at no cost. Due to COVID-19, we’ve reorganized these events to be as contact-free as possible while still providing food to the neighborhood. For the past few months, in addition to having twice monthly events, WIN staff and volunteers have pre-packaged the food into a variety of boxes/bags and loaded the packages directly into residents’ cars as they drive through the parking lot. Some staff members and their families have even been sewing face masks, which we also distribute at no cost during these events.