WJCS Covid-19 Update: We're Here for You!

Published Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked and intensified feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, loneliness, and financial insecurity. WJCS staff includes social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurse practitioners, and early childhood and education experts who are here to help. We are #WJCSProud to be providing a full range of services during this difficult time. Here are some of the ways we are caring for our Westchester neighbors in need via Telehealth medicine, virtual online programming, and, in the case of group homes, direct service care:

Mental Health 
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, WJCS has provided over 7,000 mental health sessions, via video and telephone, that includes individual and group therapy, medication management, and psychiatric evaluation. (Click HERE to learn more about telehealth and to find out where to call to access telehealth at WJCS.)

WJCS Yonkers School-based Satellite Clinics continue to operate virtually, even though Yonkers schools are closed. LeRoy Ennis, director of the program, was quoted in the Rockland/Westchester Journal News about the social isolation children are experiencing. "We've got parents saying (kids) won't come out of their room. They won't speak with the family. We're seeing kids who normally socialize very well become disconnected."

Telehealth sessions are an important and powerful way for children and families to stay connected with their therapists during the pandemic," says Geovany Martinez, a bilingual social worker at the WJCS Yonkers Family Mental Health Clinic. Parents are seeking guidance for how to reorganize their home lives, he says, now that they are balancing being parents, teachers to their children who are studying remotely from home, recreational leaders, all while trying to work at their own jobs or dealing with their own job loss. 

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 
If you heard huge rounds of applause reverberating through Westchester on Thursday and Friday April 16th and 17th, you were not imagining it. More than 400 people--WJCS staff, Board members, supporters, and clients--joined on Zoom in clapping, shouting, and even banging on pots and pans to thank the dedicated staff of our 13 group homes where 95 intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals live with us for life. The COVID-19 pandemic has created the challenge of maintaining adequate staffing 24/7 at the group homes during a time when employees are fearful about their own family's health. Residents in the homes are feeling stressed, as social distancing has temporarily stopped family visitation and day programs have been cancelled. We are so grateful to our staff in the group homes for their commitment, compassionate care, and creativity in developing recreational activities for the residents to enjoy. The commitment of the staff in our group homes was also recognized by State Senator Shelley Mayer (below) who very generously delivered pizza to seven of our group homes. We are so appreciative of her kind gesture during these challenging times. 

A Virtual Talent Show was hosted by the WJCS POINT (Pursuing Our Independence Together) community on April 10th. Nine performers sang, played the piano and guitar, and told jokes, with dozens of POINT members and their families watching and enjoying.

Parenting Support 
Free weekly live streamed parenting groups continue to be led by WJCS professionals, in partnership with the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health, each Wednesday at 11 am. Subjects discussed include how to communicate with children about COVID-19, manage stress, build structure, and have fun while working at home with children. To join the live streamed parenting group on Wednesdays, please click here: https://zoom.us/j/830644997. The meeting ID is: 830 644 997. 

White Plains and Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow children's librarians hosted a specialZoom storytime and music time for families in the WJCS ParentChild+ program. This was in honor of The Week of the Young Child .

Jewish Programming
Jewish mindfulness meditation, gratitude, poetry, bereavement, and spirituality classes are being conducted via Zoom. Poetry, prayer, songs, and personal writings are shared in workshops to lift participants in hope and faith.

Senior Care
WJCS Case Managers for the Home Delivered Meals Program are busy conducting phone reassessments on existing clients and assessments on new clients. During these assessments, the case managers are providing information on resources and encouraging clients to complete the Census form they received in the mail.

Lisa Scott, program director at WJCS Center Lane, was interviewed by Mike Witsch on The Local Live Mamaroneck/Larchmont Community News Show and shared how WJCS is providing support to LGBTQ+ youth during COVID-19 via social media, support groups, and personal outreach.

Since WJCS was founded in 1943, we have been dedicated to providing support the most vulnerable in the Westchester community. Our deep commitment to helping those in need continues during the COVID-19  crisis. If you can, please support our efforts. DONATE HERE!

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