On July 19, we reopened our doors to the public and began distributing food and diapers indoors again. Even though everyone is required to be masked, it’s a step toward normalcy. We can now have more interaction with families, learn about their needs, and help them access available resources. This is an important piece of work that’s difficult to do in a drive-thru.
That said, coming back inside is bittersweet. We had grown accustomed to the big red circus tent in our parking lot, which sheltered food, diapers and staff. And we had to say goodbye to our temporary contract employees, who labored up to 12 months along-side our staff, lifting boxes and bags of food and diapers into car trunks. They became a part of our CFPIN family and shared our pride in making a difference to over 6,000 families during this crisis. They also shared in the misery of Nebraska’s cold winter winds, smothering heat and the severe thunderstorms in between, nearly without complaint!
We are so fortunate to have a building and parking lot that could accommodate the increase in need and outdoor distributions. And, of course, we couldn’t have done it without tremendous financial support from our donors, foundations, and government.
We are also fortunate that our discussions and planning for a diaper bank with the Junior League of Lincoln and Community Action were well underway when the pandemic hit, helping us serve families suffering diaper need through the crisis. The number of children for whom we provided diapers rose from 398 in July 2020 to 641 in June 2021.
Unfortunately, as I write this, infection numbers are on the rise among the unvaccinated. So we really don’t know what this fall and winter will bring. We certainly hope we can keep distributions in the building. But if we’ve learned anything in the last 18 months, and I think we have, it’s to be nimble. Doing so will ensure that the Center for People in Need will remain a safety net for our community in times of trouble for years to come. That is, of course, with generous help from our friends.