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Community Action ‘still providing services’ during pandemic

Nonprofit continuing to help clients in southwest Michigan but services have been modified
The Community Action nonprofit in Battle Creek will continue to provide modified services to its clients throughout southwest Michigan.
Posted at 11:24 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 23:34:04-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Michelle Williamson, CEO of Community Action, wants all of the nonprofit's clients to know one thing: they’re still operating.

“Community Action is still providing services,” she said during an interview with FOX 17 on Saturday morning. “But our services are modified.”

Community Action serves 15,000 people a year, she said. They provide a variety of services including home repair programs, foster grandparent programs, GED programs, rental assistance, transportation, and congregate dining.

They also have a home delivery meal service in Branch County, she said.

Chuck Asher added that employees and volunteers at Community Action can prepare around 20,000 meals in a month, delivering them four days a week to the elderly in that area.

However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s forced them to modify their services he said.

“We’ve limited our deliveries to two days a week,” said Asher, the chief operating officer of Community Action. “We’ve taken universal precautions with our drivers. We’re going to leave our meals on the doorsteps.”

He said volunteer drivers have been instructed not to interact with the clients. They can do visual check-ins or call them sometime in the week.

However, the food they deliver should last the clients until the end of the week, he said.

“It’ll be a hot meal on Monday, two frozen meals for Tuesday and Wednesday, and then again on Thursday a hot meal, and a frozen meal for Friday,” Asher said.

The food delivery service will remain this way until the end of April, he said.

Other services will resume much earlier.

“So coronavirus has changed a lot,” Williamson said. “We are making sure that we have safe handling practices for food in our preschool programming. Along with the state and K-12 districts, we are going to be closing our preschools.”

She said the preschool centers will be open next week. However they are asking parents to keep their children home as soon as possible. Beginning on March 20 the centers will be closed until the end of spring break.

The centers will open again on April 13.

“It’s hard because it puts some extra pressure on low-income individuals who need to work or have access to preschool to go to work,” Williamson said about the stress the closures put on parents. “With the loss of income from their jobs, sometimes that affects their ability to have food.”

Williamson said they recognize that this is difficult for everyone. However their staff and clients health and well-being is their top priority.

“Our overarching goal is to limit exposure to most of our clients,” Asher said. “Some of our clients are the most vulnerable people in the area and provide as high-level of service as we can still provide.”

***For a full list of the programs that have been modified, click here.***