COVID-19 RESPONSE & UPDATES
What happened at VSS since COVID-19?
With COVID 19, VSS is experiencing an unprecedented surge of requests for assistance from old and new clients. They include those who have lost jobs or other wage earning activities in manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and self-employment. They are also nail salon business owners and worker of which more than 90% are Vietnamese, including undocumented immigrants. They come to VSS because of our cultural competence, respect, and connectedness. They trust us because our staff, volunteer, board of directors, and advisory boards are from the communities. Most of all, they have come to know VSS as where they are assured a response to their needs.
- Each day, we get between 70-100 calls a day. This is 3-5 times more than usual. The calls come from current, old, and new clients on everything, including new clients from the Somali community. They call us on things that we can expect in time of crisis, such as dealing with hunger, depression, or domestic violence. But they also call us on things that we are unprepared for such as how to respond to the refusal of the ER room to treat or test for COVID, or how to handle the traditional funeral rituals for the deceased loved family members. We also get calls for help from small businesses, including owners of nail salons of which 95% owner are Vietnamese Americans. The highest number of requests for help is for emergency support, including food, counseling, transportation, hospitalization, and housing.
- In response, VSS staff, volunteer, and even board members are working night and day. Our staff have always worn multiple hats. But now they have all become case workers and translators, not only in languages but also in technology. They are helping close to 100 individuals and families per day with unemployment challenges, food access, distance learning for youth/kids, and the health needs of their multi-generation and extended family, from great grandma to nieces and cousins – all of whom speak little to no English as new Americans. Since beginning of March, VSS has distributed food box for 300 clients per month. Also, we are preparing and protecting Vietnamese, Karen, Somali communities beyond services by serving as a consulting resources for the Minnesota Department of Health, City of Minneapolis, and the Governor office as they create COVID action plan.
What do we expect over the next 12 months?
Over the next 12 months, we anticipate that needs will continue to increase. It is unlikely that the health and economic threats to our communities will go away. Job losses will not come back over the next six months, at the earlies. COVID 19 will hit with a second wave in the fall. The inequities in wealth access, education, health care, and race will worsen.
- Increase of at least 50% of clients needing services in emergency assistance, COVID-19 information on prevention, testing, and treatment, job placements, mental health services, domestic abuse, family issues, elderly services, and all current programs.
- Increase of the number of clients in current programs: Celebrating Families program, Elders Circles, ABE program due to increased enrollment in MFIP
- Increase need of clients for job training programs Increased need for services for children and youth
- Increased calls from clients wanting info on COVID-19 and asking for VSS to be a testing site as well as hub for COVID-19 health services
- 100% increase in home visits