As the COVID-19 crisis intensifies, Farmville-area nonprofits met by teleconference on Tuesday, March 17, to discuss ways to coordinate communication and resources to meet needs in our area. The result of the digital meeting was FarmvilleCares.org, a website to be launched the morning of March 19.
Attending the digital meeting were representatives from Piedmont Senior Resources, FACES, Habitat for Humanity, Prince Edward Social Services, the Interfaith Collective, Southside Family YMCA, Pregnancy Support Center of Southside Virginia, United Way, Farmville-Area Chamber of Commerce and several Farmville-area churches.
The new website, www.farmvillecares.org, will not only be a one-stop resource to find needed help provided by our local nonprofits but will also give specific ways community members can support their efforts. This includes hands-on help, specific material needs and donations.
Community members and organizations are urged to visit the site to find resources for assistance or tangible ways they can support local organizations and individuals. Members of each organization explained challenges brought about by the COVID-19 crisis:
Increased need for volunteers at FACES
FACES President Ellery Sedgwick noted that Saturday food distributions have transitioned to a drive-through food pickup to protect clients and volunteers, and the process will create a need for more volunteers. It also initiates a need for traffic control and local police will be contacted to assist. Volunteers are also needed for bagging food and childrens’ backpacks Thursdays 3:30-5:30.
“In our new facility we do have a greater capacity to store and refrigerate food,” said Sedgwick. “We will be glad to coordinate with any organization to use that capacity to maximum benefit.”
FACES is able to purchase food from the FeedMore Food Bank at steeply reduced prices. Every dollar donated will buy ten times more food than items purchased in the grocery store. Instead of donating food items, support FACES’ work by donating at www.facesfoodpantry.com/donate.
New avenues of cooperation among the nonprofits became evident as Piedmont Senior Resources (PSR) Executive Director Justine Young joined the conversation.
PSR currently makes deliveries of frozen meals to elderly clients in Prince Edward and six other nearby counties. PSR serves among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. “We primarily serve seniors who do have health issues of one type or another and are often restricted to home already,” explained Young. “Now they will be facing an even greater challenge in obtaining basic supplies, medications, and food. PSR will work with local agencies and individuals to creatively ensure the safety of the senior population.”
“If you already have trucks delivering meals to outlying areas, FACES could add produce and staples to those deliveries,” Sedgwick noted. He also mentioned the capacity of the new FACES warehouse to aid other organizations to store and refrigerate food if needed.
As a result of the teleconference, FACES and PSR will now work together to send fresh produce and meat to seniors in Cumberland, Charlotte, and Prince Edward counties twice a month. To help pay for the additional cost of food, community members can donate online at www.psraaa.org/support-us.
COVID-19 hotline announced
STEPS Inc., our region’s community action agency, launched a COVID-19 hotline. That line will be manned 24/7 to serve as a resource for those needing emergency assistance. That number is (877) 630-6458. The hotline will serve as a resource to the communities STEPS serves Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.
“We take our responsibility extremely seriously,” said Sharon Harrup, president and CEO of STEPS. “First and foremost, we must take care of our health, the health of our families, and the health of our communities. Our community is depending on us to work together during this unprecedented time in our history. We will get through this, and we will help our neighbors get through it as well.”
The FarmvilleCares.org site will serve as a resource for those manning the hotline as well.
Peer-to-Peer Volunteer Network announced
Patsy Watson, representing the Interfaith Collective, offered to coordinate volunteers. The Peer-to-Peer Volunteer Network will match volunteers with individuals who request assistance with grocery shopping, rides to the doctor, etc. Volunteers will also be able to register on the site to provide assistance.
The request for volunteer assistance can also be submitted by calling 434-414-1188. This program is open to faith groups, civic organizations and others in the community who are looking to serve in a personal way or need to assist their members in finding volunteer help.
Child and family support
Amber Davis of the Pregnancy Support Center advised that the office is closed to the public but still staffed.
“We are still there and available to help,” she added. “Diapers are getting harder to find, and we have a supply of those on hand. They are available to families in need. As always, if you have questions about a pregnancy, you can also call us.”
Prince Edward County Public Schools (PECPS) Family and Community Engagement liaison Jennifer Kinne reported on the feeding program now underway. With the schools closed, the children who were receiving breakfast and lunch are left without that important nutrition.
“In order to meet that need, PECPS is running the program in six locations for those 0-18 years of age,” she added.
That program is already coordinating with FACES, which provides weekend food supplies through the Backpack Program throughout the year.
The community is encouraged to visit FarmvilleCares.org for community resources and updates including a listing of organizations offering assistance and ways for citizens to help and be helped. It could be something as simple as bringing a roll or two of toilet paper or paper towels by PSR for seniors who aren’t able to get out for it or donating $10 to FACES to help fund staples for families in need.