Hope means different things to different people and can take many forms in bringing about positive change to the lives of those in need. The knowledge that help is still available in a time of overwhelming and profound crisis means hope, and with COVID-19 dominating the consciousness ever the last two months, it is easy for vulnerable people to fall between the cracks of need.
The Salvation Army Bethany Hope Centre (BHC), staff are ensuring that no one falls between those cracks. At BHC, which provides programs and services to pregnant or parenting youth under age 30, hope continues to make a difference amid the COVID-19 crisis. This hope from BHC takes the form of health care, child care, meal programs, education and employment guidance as well as programs for young fathers.
This summer, BHC planned on sending up to 80 children aged 6 – 12 to away summer camp, thanks to a $9300 grant from mobile network company TELUS. As Salvation Army summer camps will not be running this summer because of the pandemic, the funds can be used to bring the greatest hope to BHC parents and their children.
While many BHC programs have been cancelled, others continue in a modified form to ensure families receive the supports they need. BHC executive director Sandra Randall says the participants are still able to take part in one-on-one parenting sessions as well as the Dads group through Zoom video conferencing. The Infant and Child and Development team also uses Zoom for virtual gatherings for Circle Time to sing songs, read stories and stay connected.
Keeping young children entertained while stuck at home can be especially challenging with visits to friends and playgrounds off limits. To keep children involved and engaged, BHC sends out At Home Challenge craft projects – weekly activity kits that come with all needed supplies and building instructions. Kits have included making homemade playdough with Jello, making butterflies and painting with straws.
“These are activities that the whole family can work on together and therefore help to promote good quality time spent as a family,” said Sandra. “The kits are intended for children, but we know the parents have just as much fun helping them create what comes in the kits as well.”
The BHC’s Learning Coach program continues to assist clients who are working towards high school credits, with students checking in with the learning coach through email, phone, text or a Zoom call. The BHC Food Share program also continues to provide food that is delivered to families on a weekly basis.
No matter the level of adversity, BHC remains committed to parents, children, and families, through creativity, ingenuity and a focus on what’s important: hope.
To support the work of The Salvation Army please visit www.salvationarmy.ca or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
By: Chris McGregor