As we entered 2020, our team was excited by all the opportunities coming our way during the second half of the school year.
Then, the unforeseen happened: COVID-19. Words like social distancing and essential workers became prevalent in our vocabulary; distance learning replaced the close-knit bonds between caring educators and their students. Leveraging the skills and relationships cultivated during our 25 years serving Stamford, SPEF quickly began facing challenges head-on and serving our students and families in new and exciting ways.
Working closely with the Stamford Public School district and the City of Stamford, SPEF has re-imagined its programming for the second half of the school year, and the coming summer, by launching our Helping Hands Initiative.We’re all in this together!
It began in March,supporting the Stamford Public School district’s Grab and Go Meals.SPEF quickly and effectively organized a roster of adult volunteers who have assisted by distributing meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for students throughout our community. Since April 1st, SPEF's Grab-and-Go Meals volunteers have filled an average of 57 shifts per week, having contributed over 1,135 volunteer hours, and helping to distribute nearly 240,000 meals. That's what we can accomplish when we work together!
Rolling out now: Home Work Helpers capitalizes on SPEF’s ability to recruit volunteers plus our longstanding success in matching students needing academic and social support with caring adults, such as long-time mentor Kristen Stops. With SPEF’s mentoring programs suspended due to school closures, Kristen is volunteering as a home work helper, reuniting virtually with her middle school mentee to help him navigate his school assignments via distance learning. Collaborating with the Ferguson Library, Home Work Helpers has made nearly 30 student-helper pairs, providing families with free, online, interactive, academic help for their students in grades K-12.
Something Special For Our Kids: SPEF's Books Across Stamfordprogram is an engaging literacy program that focuses on motivating children to read by distributing new books to low-income children and families. SPEF partners with Reading is FUNdamental and Scholastic, along with Stamford’s Ferguson Library. Starting mid-May our dedicated volunteers began distributing new grade-appropriate books at Grab and Go Meals sites across Stamford, with nearly 3,000 books now being enjoyed by kids in our community.
As I write you this note, SPEF is working with the City of Stamford and our district to plan, coordinate, and deliver summer programming that will enable Stamford public school students to attend local camps, be prepared for kindergarten, and continue academic progress in summer school.