Since the onset of this health emergency we’ve heard leaders, reporters and friends encouraging us to “stay safe, stay at home,” and insisting we’re “safer at home.” While the contagion can be slowed by “social distancing,” the stories of how these societal changes are impacting some of our most vulnerable populations need to be told.
Right now, in Fargo-Moorhead, the professional mentors I oversee at Friends of the Children—Fargo-Moorhead are supporting a family of seven that has no home to stay safe in. Some families in extreme poverty have no other option but living in close quarters with others at local shelters.
Right here in our community, we’re working with a little boy who was removed from his home, separated from siblings and placed into foster care. While it is a safe environment, it is also a new and foreign place during an already scary time.
For those living with abuse, home is not a place they want to be. For students experiencing neglect as a regular part of their day, meals and love come from outside the home, often at school. To these people the idea of staying home is terrifying. They don’t feel safe or protected. They don’t feel that sense of “home.”
Once we leave home, many of us look forward to the moment when we can walk back in that door, see our loved ones, and let our guard down. All of the scenarios I mentioned are especially heartbreaking because individuals living through poverty, abuse or neglect will never feel that. In fact, this confinement to home can feel like prison.
Every segment of society is under pressure. Health, retail, food, civic, for-profit and nonprofit are all experiencing a collective, once-in-a-lifetime challenge. But please remember that while we are all dealing with a global pandemic, the challenges of distance learning, and heightened anxiousness and fear, our community’s most vulnerable are struggling to fill even their very basic needs.
What do we do with this?
- If you see someone at a store or out with their children, give them a smile instead of a scowl. There are incredibly well-intentioned parents who need necessities to survive and have no choice but to bring their children with.
- Seek understanding. Before mentioning anyone in person or on social media for being at the store or in public, please consider that they may have a real need to be out or be escaping a trying home situation. They may be dealing with challenges you cannot imagine.
- Ask how you can help with the multitude of children and families in our neighborhoods for whom home is a trying place. I challenge you to ask how you can help and then follow through.
- Give, connect with and donate to local nonprofits. For many of the vulnerable in our neighborhoods, their only life line are nonprofits like, Friends of the Children—Fargo-Moorhead.
Friends of the Children—Fargo-Moorhead is on the job serving youth and families in poverty with all of the tenacity and intentionality that we ever have. We are providing one-on-one focused mentoring in-person where possible, on the phone and through virtual platforms.
We are currently providing each of our families up to 4 hours of intentional focus and direct support each week. We see a great need to expand our services to the community, and we need support. Visit www.friendsfargomoorhead.org to learn more or call 701-388-5241 for details on providing monetary donations, school supplies or non-perishable food items.
Fisher is executive director of Friends of Children Fargo-Moorhead, a nonprofit that pairs children with the greatest obstacles with a salaried professional mentor who stays with them from kindergarten through high school graduation.