By Valarie Waddle
The Faith Hope & Love Foundation (FHL) has been serving Eddy County residents in need for just over 6 years. Providing financial support, clothing and household goods, and awarding scholarships to graduating seniors and non-traditional students. While these services are still being provided to the FHL clients, the new challenges of COVID-19 have not only changed the way services are being rendered, but also the structure of the services being provided.
FHL Executive Director Alana Gregory Carreon stated, “We restructured the way that we assist individuals, we knew that this would not be a short-term issue and that this might impact people throughout the duration of the year. There’s just so many unknowns.”
Rather than restricting assistance to clients once every six months, Carreon proposed to the FHL Board of Directors to help clients up to four times, during the COVID-19 crisis. Fortunately, the board obliged her request and the organization was able to set a plan in motion, just in time for the statewide shutdown. FHL boasts a strong team who takes the time to get to know each client and assess their needs. The variety of struggles families are facing from COVID-19 requires special attention to a wide range of needs. In addition to reduced hours and job loss, many families struggled to acquire basic necessities like baby supplies and toiletries, items that were generously donated to FHL for client distribution. Additionally, community donors reached out to FHL to donate additional monetary contributions, specifically related to COVID-19. Considering FHL operates solely on private donations, these additional contributions have reached far and wide across Eddy County’s vulnerable populations.
Carreon acknowledged the importance of community support, stating that supporting local business is just as important as donating to non-profit agencies.
“We love supporting local business. We have been able to work with La Tienda both in providing food vouchers for our clients and also being able to shop for them directly. I know there are a lot of concerns about people overbuying and stocking up, so its nice that they have allowed us to shop for our clients who aren’t comfortable being exposed right now” she stated. Another service that FHL has recently implemented is providing meals for front line workers, including medical staff and first responders. “That for us was two-fold, it was not just to show our love and support for people on the front lines, it was also to support local businesses who have not been able to generate as much income” stated Carreon.
Several organizations have mentioned their partnerships with FHL throughout the COVID-19 situation. Many of these partnerships were actually cultivated prior to COVID-19 and Carreon assures that this is only the beginning. Because there are so many agencies and organizations in Carlsbad who provide specialized services, FHL aims to support these organizations through networking and sharing of resources including funding, mentorship, and referrals.
Although we all hope the COVID-19 crisis will end sooner than later, Carreon assures that FHL is committed to supporting their clients for the long haul stating “The COVID Community Initiative will continue to provide for as long as the community continues to be impacted.” In addition to tangible support, FHL aims to help their clients with support in all aspects of life being affected by COVID. For instance, clients whose employment was affected by shutdowns can receive guidance in applying for unemployment, filling out job applications, prepping and even dressing for interviews.
The heart of FHL’s mission is to support and strengthen the community it serves. This includes utilizing volunteers in all capacities. “Everyone has different gifts and we appreciate when those gifts can be shared with our clients. We love volunteers!” says Carreon. Volunteers can apply on the organization’s website www.fhlcarlsbad.org