An update from Jen Pineda, Program Director MidWay 1 and 2, Kingston and Ellenville

Working with young adults requires flexibility under any circumstances. “Blanket rules for programs just don’t work,” observed Jen Pineda. “COVID brought lots of uncertainty and changing needs. With understanding from our funding agencies, we created solid, core guidelines for both Ellenville and Kingston houses. No residents became ill. When we had a couple of staff come down with the virus, we had to jump in to cover shifts and people were incredibly willing.”

The residents have helped make this situation work as well. “Some of young people have jobs, others are in school. We had 3 graduate from high school and a number who are essential workers, going to work every day in stores and even a nursing home. One of the privileges of being a long-term residence program is that we become safe adults in their lives. All of the shared responsibility was there, before COVID, and that made things much smoother. When we needed a reminder about distancing, a staff member put up a baby-gate at the door to the office. The door was still open. The distance was natural.”

The staff and residents were thrown a second challenge after the death of George Floyd. “We have always been a supportive and diverse environment. But now we’ve been discussing together how to advocate within the system rather than just supporting the residents to navigate it.”

“We are still making changes,” said Pineda. “We are bringing in new residents, though even more cautiously than usual.” As a leader at Family, she is especially concerned now about acknowledging the extra effort and stress everyone has been under. “We all became so much more aware of how impermanent and not in our control things are. I want to find ways to give people time to process the intense experiences, the scary stuff, that they have worked through. It is amazing to me how Family staff just continue to show up and do what needs to be done.”