Staff in Action: Support Counselors of The Gathering Place
The Support Counselors of The Gathering Place have performed amazing work during this shelter in place. AFS received the notice of the shelter in place order by Alameda County on March 15th. At that point, the Support Counselors worked tirelessly that week to organize virtual visits, including helping people who had very little technical knowledge set up Skype, Facetime and Zoom visits. Overall, Support Counselors contacted all biological parents and caregivers to set up these video and audio visits.
Support Counselors have been working hard to make sure all families have the opportunity to have virtual visits. The first week, they facilitated 21 of 58 visits. As of the first week of March, Support Counselors had facilitated 47 out of 66 visits.
The Support Counselors have also come up with wonderful, innovative ideas to keep the virtual visits interesting. For example, they have streamed the animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, given books to the parents to read to children, streamed interactive music for the parents and children, helped the parents to do homework with their children, found online storytellers, and so much more. Each week it is so heartwarming to see all the effort the Support Counselors are putting into each visit.
In addition, Jorge Lopez-Merino has made a huge impact on The Gathering Place. He as opened the office every day since sheltering in place began and made himself available to help all who need it, including by taking school supplies and books to two families.
It has been amazing to see AFS staff rise to the occasion to make sure our client’s needs continue to be met in a time of crisis.