WEST POINT, Miss. - Denzel Washington is documented with a very powerful question – “Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss or dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen, but felt by the heart.” Definitely, 2020 will forever be marked as a year that changed American life. The sense of normalcy for all of us has been interrupted, making us slow down, implement precautions, focus more on interactions with our children, cooking and family time. Even amidst the uncertainty, we have each identified beautiful things that have touched our hearts – some new and others are things we were just too busy to notice.
Sally Kate Winters Family Services has experienced this same reality. Spring is an extremely busy time of year for our programs and we had LOTS of plans for 2020. Several events were cancelled or postponed, awareness transitioned to increased social media instead of face-to-face presentations, and services were modified to comply with CDC guidelines and recommendations. Operating as an ‘Essential Workplace’, our staff has worked a normal schedule and modified the delivery of services. We have continued to provide 24-hour care for clients in our residential programs and responded to emergency cases of felony child abuse. The delivery of service and commitment of our staff and community partners is one of the ‘beautiful things’ we have identified within this crisis.
Our hearts are also burdened as we acknowledge the dangerous situations many local children are faced with each day through the shelter-in-place announcement. The sad reality is that in times of crisis, children are often placed at greater risk for abuse and family violence. Right now, families are feeling the burden of financial stress, anxiety caused by uncertainty, limited food and supply resources, layoffs, and school closures. Those who abuse children will become increasingly violent and many caregivers who would not normally abuse their children may lash out under the strain and stress of the current situation. Research confirms that the majority of child abuse cases stem from direct family members, close relatives, or guardians – the very people children are required to be with 24/7 right now. This means the children in our communities are at greater risk with very minimal involvement from protective adults outside the home environment. In an effort of addressing these concerns, Sally Kate Winters Family Services has added radio and television commercials that are promoting mandated reporting of child abuse and providing the contact number for the state hotline. These commercials are airing throughout April as part of our Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign. We are hopeful this method of promoting child abuse prevention will positively impact the lives of children during this crisis.
We would also like to recognize and share our appreciation for an unexpected, substantial donation given to our organization through the Children’s Promise Act. Our program was contacted in February by Jennifer Woodruff with BancorpSouth to announce the allocation of a corporate donation to SKWFS through the Mississippi Business Tax Credit for 2020. Little did we know at the time that this donation would be our saving grace financially during this pandemic!! Special thanks to BancorpSouth for recognizing the impact of our services and joining our efforts in promoting a safe environment for ALL children in our community.
As we all navigate the unprecedented circumstances and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that you and your family remain healthy. We are all in this together – through recognizing needs and supporting each other, we will make it to the other side of this crisis. Thank you to all of the unsung heroes that are still engaged in service within our communities. Thank you for your support and prayers for our program as we go forward.
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