Watch this short feature that aired on April 3, 2020 on
Spectrum News NY1 on the work of Bro/Sis during the Covid-19 pandemic.
MESSAGE FROM THE BROTHERHOOD/SISTER SOL REGARDING COVID-19
On Tuesday, March 17th, Bro/Sis began serving our young people remotely through internet-based meetings and support services. In accordance with CDC recommendations and NYC mandates that prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people, we were left with no choice but to pause our in-person operations. This has been a very difficult decision, and yet, as difficult as this decision is – we know that it is the right decision for Bro/Sis: our youth, our alumni and our staff.
For our young people, Bro/Sis is a second home and our commitment to them is our highest priority. This is the first time in Bro/Sis’s 25-year history that we have been forced to temporarily close our doors and move to remote support services for our young people. In these unprecedented times, however, we must do our part to protect our members and community by taking the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety.
Rest assured, Bro/Sis will remain a support system for our young people and we are here to serve them as they navigate these difficult times. Our core themes of Positivity, Community, Knowledge, and Future will continue to guide our work every day as our staff brings Bro/Sis programming to our members through internet-based meetings and support services.
We know that these difficult and dark times will have a great affect on our members – they have already seen their schools closed, their part-time jobs ended, and family members have already lost employment.
We know that economically distressed New Yorkers – those living in poverty and near its edge – will have an exponentially more difficult time facing this pandemic. In addition, this unprecedented situation is difficult for anyone to process and we must continue to support our young people to understand this new world.
Our members need us now, more than ever, and that is why it was so difficult to close our doors at this time. Bro/Sis members will always have us as a resource, even when circumstances prevent us from serving our young people in person. Our commitment to our young people is unwavering.
Our staff will be working full time to provide any and all supports that we can provide, to help our young people understand and navigate this crisis – and emerge from it. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.
We will need your support more than ever – we can’t do this work without you. Thank you for your ongoing support of Bro/Sis – for helping us build our beloved community. We thank you for standing with Bro/Sis.
UPDATES ON COVID-19 EMERGENCY RELIEF EFFORTS
The young people we serve are part of the growing number of families that are disproportionately affected during this crisis, and we expect their needs to only increase. Already, many of the parents of our members have lost their jobs, families have reported food scarcity and lost internet and phone access. Many of our youth members have also reported the loss of critical part-time jobs that pay for rent, food, and phones.
We are focused on the needs of our membership and community during this crisis and responded with immediate support. Here are additional details on our response and relief efforts, and how we’re continuing to ensure that the needs of our members are met in these unprecedented times:
• On March 16, we distributed thousands of dollars in emergency financial assistance to 100 members, and their families, for food and critical needs.
• On the week of April 6, we will distribute another 2,000 meals to community members.
• We are working with our members to ensure they have access to technology for their remote learning needs. While NYC’s Department of Education has announced it will provide computers for all students in need – many of our young people have still not received computers and so we have distributed over 50 laptops and hotspots for internet connectivity.
• We have provided members and their families with extensive information about emergency resources available through Bro/Sis, and have curated a list of numerous outside resources and information to help navigate the impacts of the crisis.
• Ongoing supports are in place for our alumni in college and beyond.
• We are supporting our young people through digital mentoring, virtual sessions and check-ins, phone calls, texts, providing extensive tutoring, guidance, and working together to facilitate education and promote community from afar.
We are staying constantly updated on the latest city mandates and will reopen our doors the moment it is safe. Additionally, our leadership is speaking with an array of advisors, supporters, and colleagues in regard to the virus and the best ways to serve our young people in these most challenging times. The expertise of the public health and medical community will govern our decisions.