Brenda Gonzales, SCN, took on a new ministry during a worldwide pandemic.
I saw each class once before it was closed due to the coronavirus, she said.
Once back in Louisville, she joined Doors to Hope outgoing administrator Lorena Miller for an orientation. Sister Brenda then tried to figure out how to meet the needs of the students, especially during on-line learning. The students weren’t allowed in their schools and they weren’t allowed into Doors to Hope.
Sister Brenda found the What’s App social media app to be useful in reaching the families served by Doors to Hope. She worked with other organizations to ensure basic needs were met including food, utilities and rent.
“We were able to financially help 11 families,” she said. She helped these families get back to work. Many had been let go due to the virus with no plans on when they would be re-hired.
One student’s father tested positive with Covid-19. With many of her families living in close quarter, it is difficult to isolate. Sister Brenda found two easily accessible sites with drive-thru testing at Americana Apartments and at St. Rita parish.
In addition to What’s App, Sister Brenda and her staff circulated flyers to inform those in the immigrant community about services offered.
The coronavirus has cancelled Doors to Hope’s summer program and Fiesta de Sol, its summer fundraising event held in June. Doors to Hope staff is attending webinars about how to re-open. Sister Brenda just recently took a walk through the space to plan for what is possible with social distancing. They do have masks, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes.
Sister Brenda, her staff and interns are looking into getting grants for Chromebooks and for some small tutoring groups. They are also reaching out to teachers who may provide some connection and assistance.
“We are fearful that our students fell behind in the last few months of online school,” she said.
She hopes to have students involved in some online activities. Two Doors to Hope interns from the University of Louisville are helping with providing services. The small staff that runs Doors to Hope continue to meet for weekly staff meetings.
“It’s been a bit overwhelming but we’ve been able to figure things out,” she said. “The families seem to be appreciative that we continue to keep up with them weekly. We continue to address their needs. The original mission is a bit askew right now but we are meeting the needs.”