The Center for Respite Care and ECS share their approaches to serving vulnerable communities

Two Greater Cincinnati organizations have not stopped working. The Center for Respite Care serves adults experiencing homeless who are ill, and Every Child Succeeds (ECS) provides home visitation for at-risk moms and babies. ECS also operates Help Me Grow and HANDS in Southwest, Ohio.

“Being on the frontline is hard,” says Laurie Nelson, the center’s CEO. “We are scared, confused and weary but, with joyful hearts. We are now assuming roles we hadn't thought of: janitors, couriers, and counselors. We stay positive and keep foremost in our minds the individuals who have nowhere else to go. We do this, not just because of our mission, but because they are our human family.

But they’re not alone in their mission: Freestore Foodbank, Matthew 25: Ministries, and community members are checking in, making donations, and “lifting us up while we do our thing,” according to Nelson.

The center’s full staff is in place and caring for their clients.

“This is the safest place,” says Nathaniel, a client. The people are dedicated to our needs and make sure our physical and mental needs are being taken care of. I’m humbled by the care and dedication the staff is providing. I love this place [and I’m] very, very grateful to be here.”

ECS has provided care to at-risk families and babies for more than 20 years with a successful home visitation model that has been widely lauded. They help parents create a healthy environment for their children from pregnancy through the child’s third birthday.

Current conditions, due to COVID-19, have halted home visitation. ECS has moved swiftly to provide virtual home visits. They are also dropping off diapers, cribs, and supplies to families — as well as hope.

Both organizations are seamlessly caring for the people that need it most.

Dr. Judy VanGinkel explained that their new normal requires flexibility. “We are keeping our families at the center of our planning, understanding that this is a time when they need what we can bring more than ever.”

“We are being as creative as possible to identify ways in which we can stay in touch with our families without the personal contact that we know is so valuable,” she continues. “We are learning, along with all of the rest of us, how we stay together when we must stay apart.”

Supplies are a major component of the center’s work. Several days ago, they put out a social media call for some items — such as hand sanitizer — and their lead volunteers quickly delivered goods that included eggs and milk.

“The Ohio Department of Health is being incredibly flexible and supportive as we work to provide virtual services for our challenged families following the guidance of Governor Dewine – this includes phone conversations, text messaging, provision of diapers, wipes, and educational material that our home visitors drop off,” Dr. VanGinkel says. “We are working very hard to helps our moms understand that we are there to help them at the most challenging times in their lives.”

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Jennifer Mooney.

Jennifer Mooney is a reformed corporate communications senior executive. She has also worked in the advertising industry and founded The Mooney Group, LLC, a boutique public relations practice. She is an avid adventurer and traveler, which includes climbing/hiking, open water swimming, and downhill skiing. She is a downtown resident and is married to Donald Mooney. She has two grown daughters.