Staff Heroes

Week after week we hear of another staff member going above and beyond for our clients. We know it is not easy, and sometimes the rewards are not tangible, but the work you are putting in is truly life changing for our clients. Please know that each one of you is a pillar in our community working to make our neighborhoods happier, healthier places to live.  Thank you.

First, we applaud all the essential and 24/7 staff working at our homeless shelters and supportive housing developments. CAMBA’s single adult shelters currently house 762 adults, while our family shelters house 1,579 families, totaling almost 5,000 individuals, most of them children. CAMBA’s supportive housing serves more than 1,600 people providing safe, healthy homes for low-income and formerly homeless individuals and families with special needs.  Stability is provided by CAMBA staff including social and case workers, security guards, residential aides, maintenance workers, and drivers.

These are the very staff who have continuous contact with clients, as clients arrive and are given access to the residence, have questions, and need assistance throughout our facilities. Every day these staff leave the safety of their homes, to engage and help New Yorkers who struggle with health and housing stability.  Thank you!

Thanks also to the staff who manage CAMBA’s Beyond Hunger Food Emergency Pantry.  These staff are also on the frontlines meeting escalating poverty and hunger in the community. Each week the number of individuals and families needing emergency food supplies has increased by more than 20%.  Although we would like to think that the numbers will plateau, there is no evidence that they will anytime soon. Last week, we served 856 households, which is equivalent to almost 3,700 people at our Snyder Avenue Pantry.  In the first two weeks of May we saw more clients than in all of April.

THANK YOU TO OUR STAFF FOR GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND 

Thank you Lucila Vargas, Program Supervisor; Giavanna Wright, Pantry Assistant; and Janet Miller, Senior Vice-President for going above and beyond in managing the increasing donations, supplies and client demand at the Beyond Hunger Food Pantry during this very difficult period.  As many of our Pantry volunteers are senior citizens who have wisely stayed home during the pandemic, our Pantry and building staff work countless hours to keep CAMBA’s Pantry open when so many other community pantries have closed.

When in need, CAMBA delivers:

Thanks to Rafael Romero, of CAMBA’s HIV/AIDS and Health Related Services. One of Rafael’s clients, Gaundencio, was badly in need of his medication. The pharmacy was unable to deliver, and Gaundencio is too fragile to go out. As soon as he found out, Rafael took action and personally delivered the medication,  Thank you Rafael!

Thanks to Shirley Gayle (pictured), CAMBA Senior Program Director based at our Brooklyn Food and Nutrition program on Winthrop Street.  After learning that a housing client had been quarantined due to COVID-19, and knowing he was unemployed, she delivered 2 weeks’ worth of food supplies to his Bronx apartment. Maria Cruz, his Case Manager, is following up with Meals on Wheels and food delivery services, to ensure he receives adequate nutrition which he recovers from the virus. Above and Beyond – thank you both!

Thank you Chantell Rodgers, Senior Case Manager for the Stability Supportive Housing Program. Chantell was checking in on clients to ensure they were safe and healthy, and was particularly concerned about one low-functioning client who needed reminders to maintain his nutrition regimen.  Her concern proved to be prescient, as after checking on this client she found he was out of both food and funds.  Chantell immediately went into action, purchasing and delivering food and essential items to ensure his well-being.  Thanks to the work of Chantell and all of our case managers, New York’s most vulnerable residents are being cared for throughout this time of crisis.

New arrival! The wife of one of our clients in the Queens Scattered Site Housing Program gave birth prematurely to a beautiful and healthy baby girl in April. Essential baby items were donated by CAMBA staff who reached out to their friends and families asking for assistance. Elias Perez, a CAMBA senior maintenance worker, made the necessary deliveries to the family, including the baby’s first crib. Thank you to all who welcomed this precious new member to their family and into the CAMBA family!

Finding a home

Thank you to Dolcy Amanda Frederick and all of the Bay Street HomeBase Homeless Prevention Program staff, who are  completing prescreens and assessments virtually as they cannot accept walk-ins.  The team successfully moved 11 families into permanent housing through the Staten Island Special Diversion Project. These families were in situations of uncertainty: living in shelter with a newborn, in housing court awaiting notice of evictions after the housing court eviction moratorium lifts, and living in overcrowded or unsafe conditions. We are proud that even in this time of uncertainty, and with staff working remotely, our services remain reliable when the community needs us.

Ensuring Remote Success

College Prep: Virtual and Together: Thank you to CAMBA’s college access staff who have developed creative ways to help students stay on track with their schoolwork and their goals of college acceptance and enrollment.  From virtually convened Jeopardy-style workshops on healthy relationships to a virtual mentorship program, and virtual college group tours , we are grateful for the creativity and dedication of staff. These innovations play an enormous role in helping students stay on track in this new educational environment. Thank you Idriss Barnes, Jesica McLaughlin and Anntonette Bacchus.

When social distancing was enacted, the Supportive Housing Social Services team put an emergency plan in place within 24 hours that enabled them to work remotely while still providing optimal services to CAMBA tenants. Social Services staff make daily in-person contact with our most vulnerable clients and weekly contact with the more stable clients. Working remotely has been challenging as both staff and clients are accustomed to face-to-face contact. In week four of working remotely, staff have maintained a 93% successful contact rate, helping clients maintain their health and stability during this trying time.  Thanks to Natasha Fulton (pictured here), all the Supportive Housing Social Services team staff for making it happen!.

Thank you to CAMBA’s Health Homes program staff who provide person-to-person services to almost 1,400 individuals with severe mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and/or other complex chronic illnesses. When the new normal came into place with COVID-19, in-person meetings were prohibited.  Until they were equipped with remote technology, staff were doing all they could via phone and email to mitigate the socio-emotional and health issues exacerbated by the crisis. By helping clients address their health needs, these already vulnerable clients avoided emergency services, a service especially important when hospitals were overburdened. Thank you.

The Extended CAMBA Family

We are deeply grateful to the family of our Park Slope Women’s Shelter Director, Talisha Easterling, who have been a tremendous support to CAMBA’s essential staff workers. Talisha’s cousin, Lannetta Easterling, purchased Subway sandwiches for staff at six shelter sites. Talisha, Lanetta, and other family members will also be delivering 180 cakes in a jar (red velvet, banana pudding and strawberry shortcake!) to our shelter sites.  So sweet on so many levels – thank you to the Easterling Family.

YOU MOVE US!

Thank you to CAMBA’s Single Shelter staff who quickly and efficiently opened annex sites to enable necessary social distancing for clients living in congregate settings, thereby maintaining their health and safety.  Our Single Shelters Director of Facilities Chi Ming Li partnered with each Single Shelter Director and annex staff to not only facilitate the move, but also ensure the new spaces were ready for clients. We are so grateful for the evenings and weekends you’ve dedicated, including Mother’s Day Weekend.

Thank you to the Director of Broadway House Stephanie Purnell, and the Director of Park Slope Talisha Easterling who worked as a team to ensure that the move went smoothly. Thank you to Julia Di Giacomo and the entire team from Magnolia House.

Thank you to Cherise Humphries, Director of Opportunity House Men’s Shelter and Shemala Lovell, Director of the Atlantic House Men’s Shelter who successfully moved clients to shelter annexes and quickly set up staff schedules for the dual locations.  The ability to work as a team in the respective sites and with each other was certainly not surprising and led to their success.

Thank you to our Program Director Annette Rivera who manages The Gathering Place, and CAMBA’s Drop In center for those hard-to-reach street homeless population that for various reasons may not want to be temporarily housed in a shelter environment.  Annette also opened an annex site to maintain the health and well-being of these clients.

You have moved and inspired us with your poise and professionalism throughout this time of crisis in support of our clients and communities.  Thank you on behalf of all the struggling New Yorkers you serve, and the support you provide to move them towards permanent housing, self-sufficiency and independence.