With area shutdowns, slowdowns and restrictions taking a financial toll on almost everyone, including the most vulnerable, a local nonprofit is attempting to keep helping families with basic necessities.
Hope Unlimited Family Care Center in Paducah is offering curbside delivery of supplies, along with some lessened requirements for receiving benefits.
“We’re going to trust day by day and just hope that we are able to take care of the needs that come,” Executive Director Nicole Farley said.
“If people have needs that we can help supply, we specialize in parenting, so needs would be things like diapers, formula, baby food, hygiene items, things like that.”
As a result of Illinois regulations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the center had to shut down its Metropolis location, and Farley said she’s had to lay off that location’s staff along with most of the staff at the Paducah location.
“It’s very devastating,” said Farley, characterizing the layoffs as temporary. Affected employees have a guaranteed job when restrictions are removed, she said, but the layoffs allow those employees to file promptly for unemployment benefits.
As of this week, Farley said, the staff at the Paducah location will be reduced to six, which includes the registered nurse and stenographer on staff.
“Our medical clinic is 100% in function,” said Farley. The only non-staff allowed in the building are those who require pregnancy services.
“We are doing walk-in pregnancy tests and ultrasounds as needed,” she said.
“We’re doing those screenings over the phone because … if someone’s pregnant they need proof of pregnancy to receive (government) services.”
Those running low on diapers or formula who face financial challenges can call the center and provide “brief pertinent information,” Farley said.
Usually, before providing a “one-time blessing,” staff would hold an in-person interview assessing the applicant’s needs and introduce that person to their learn-to-earn programs and other services.
But with the restrictions in place, Farley said Hope Unlimited only requires the phone call, a photo ID and proof that the applicant is the parent or legal guardian of any children involved.
The center set up a drive-up lane marked off with traffic cones by its 11th Street entrance, where staff equipped with a mask and latex gloves deliver the items and offer to say a prayer for families receiving supplies.
Farley said staff members work to determine how pressing the applicant’s need is before providing from its limited stock.
“So many times people are just scared, and we understand that,” she said.
“They think they need five or six extra (cans of formula) but they really have what they need,” she said.
“They could call back in two or three weeks so that the people who have extreme immediate needs we can serve first.”
And for regular clients, who receive supplies on a weekly basis based on their participation in center programs, requirements about attending classes are currently waived.
Farley estimated that the Paducah location currently has enough supplies to last for a few weeks if no further donations were to come in.
But she said the organization has already received some donations of supplies and some unexpected monetary donations.
“I really believe people will start stepping up and helping provide,” she said.
“A pack of diapers, a couple cans of formula, 10 packs of dollar wipes, it makes a big difference.”
Families needing assistance or wondering if they qualify for help can call the location at 1101 Jefferson at (270) 442-1166, Monday through Thursday.