Seven has always been considered a “lucky” number, and for the children of the East End still suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic from food and housing insecurity, school absenteeism, as well as anxiety and mental illness, and for some whose situations are complicated even further by increased domestic violence, child abuse and substance abuse within distressed families, the following magnificent seven non-profit organizations involved in the East End Fund for Children (EEFC) “will help coordinate the efforts and build the capacity of these vital community partners through joint fundraising and collaborative programming.”
Participating organizations include the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center, the Children’s Museum of the East End, the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center, i-Tri, Project MOST, The Retreat and the Southampton Youth Association.
These organizations recognized and have chosen to act on behalf of the charitable giving that has unfortunately begun to wane, and “The Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) is serving as fiduciary for the EEFC. All gifts are maintained in a dedicated bank account and are dispersed equally to the seven organizations minus credit card processing fees.”
Commenting on the need and value the EEFC will address, a representative of some of the organizations relayed:
Steve Long, CMEE President, revealed, “I think there has been a lot of people talking about how we are almost through the pandemic, but I think the issues children are facing is still very much at the forefront. We conducted a survey earlier this month of food pantry families, and with 60 responses, every single one revealed they were experiencing unemployment or underemployment relative to before the pandemic, as well as those families that are so far behind in their rent – some as much as $5,000 or $6,000 plus utilities – along with food insecurity, it is simply that for many members of the community they are still mired in crisis.” Continuing, Long stated, “There is still a great need for the type of programs all seven of our organizations address, and since we all rely on fundraising events, and the challenges of conducting many in-person events, EEFC will bring us all together collectively so we can make a huge impact, supporting the needs of 3,500 children and caregivers each week.”
A staff member at Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center commented, “It has been a difficult year where inequality was already too high to begin with, and now is at the highest it has ever been. We have many marginalized families in our community, some of whom have lost their entire income. This fund will hopefully shed more light on the poor children and poor families, who are a larger number than many communities are aware of. It is wonderful to see these seven organizations come together for the same mission and draw more attention to the problem.”
Tim Frazier, The Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center Executive Director, explained, “We have been talking about this whole need on the East End for children and all things that are related to children – their nutrition, their need for food, literacy, social and emotional well-being – and are working more closely together on the things each of us are doing to provide for our families. We work every day here in childcare, and we know who are striving to survive. It is getting harder and harder to afford food, a roof over your head, finding and securing work that is reasonable that can help them maintain a living; many are working two or three jobs and are in the service business, landscaping, etc. It is not just once what is needed in these communities and it is getting more and more difficult to find a solution for food and childcare needs. We are not just focused on children but the needs of the whole family that best benefits everyone. Children are coming to us frustrated and anxious and begging for love and attention.”
Theresa Roden, i-Tri Founder and Executive Director, stated, “For us at I-Tri we are finding that right now there is a real crisis among adolescent girls, 11-14, and mental health issues. This is really where our focus has been, and since we have been remote we are really staying in tune and touch with the outreach programs. This fund will only help us in keeping the outreach programs going strong for a healthier mind, body and spirit.”
Rebecca Morgan Taylor, Project MOST Executive Director, advised, “First of all, we are thrilled to be with the other six organizations, and this has allowed me to learn more about what each organization does and is doing for the community. All our needs are very similar in the different areas that we are serving, and the cross-over removes you from your own bubble to see how so many people have been truly affected and in so many different ways. There is more need for financial assistance for food programs, and we were able to start a weekend snack program with several families receiving the packs now.”
Loretta Davis, The Retreat Executive Director, commented, “It’s a small world out here, and so many of our clients are the same clients. We all are focused on future generations in our communities, and we really have to provide these services so that our children and youth can thrive and grow, and by networking together we can have those safer and healthier communities.”
Andrea Narty, Executive Director of Southampton Youth Association, advised, “Each organization has a distinct mission that addresses a need, but the fund we’ve created represents an opportunity to have a more holistic impact on the children we all deeply care about. The pandemic has inspired us all to think broader about how we can work together to support the kids and help them thrive through this crisis.” The SYA was established 52 years ago, “to provide recreational services to our local school age children, during leisure hours,” and has provided social recreational, summer and sports related activities by stressing instruction and sportsmanship over winning.
To support the efforts of these magnificent seven organizations and the work they are doing though the EEFC, or for more information go to cmee.com/.