Providing access to nutritious food, basic hygiene products, the necessary tools to do their homework or trusted adult mentors who provide supervision and critical support.
What makes a great community? That’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
COVID-19 has affected nearly everyone in our country, including the people I live and work with in rural Kentucky. I’ve been with the Barren-Glasgow County Boys & Girls Club for more than a third of my life, but the effects of the pandemic on our community are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Among the many challenges facing local families, the most urgent and persistent is hunger.
I’ll never forget hearing a knock at my door and opening it to find one of our Club kids. He told me he was hungry, so I asked him what he had for breakfast. He just shook his head. So, I asked him when he had last eaten.
“It was three days ago, Ms. Mallie, but don't tell anybody.”
Even for a veteran like me, that was an eye-opening experience. Our Club got him and his family food right away, but we knew there were more kids just like him who hadn’t yet come knocking. That was the moment I knew we had to find a way to reopen our doors, even amid the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Our county is one of the poorest in the state. When support systems like schools and Boys & Girls Clubs close, many kids can no longer access what they need to survive and thrive — whether that’s nutritious food, basic hygiene products, the necessary tools to do their homework or trusted adult mentors who provide supervision and critical support. Our Club partnered with the school systems in our area to serve breakfast, lunch and snacks every day during the three months our Club was closed. We let parents take home laptops and helped them complete unemployment applications.