No kids in the hallways

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No kids in the hallways

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I work as a director of a Boys & Girls Club in Cleveland, Tennessee. For anyone unfamiliar with the Boys & Girls Club, we are a Department of Education-certified after-school and summer program. Our organization is comprised of fourteen Clubs across four counties and, prior to COVID-19, we served over 1,000 Club members every day. Immediately following the outbreak of COVID-19, the hallways of our Clubs were empty. In a matter of hours, an invaluable local resource became inaccessible to hundreds of families who depended on our support. This was an extremely difficult time. Fortunately, our organization has an exceptional leadership team. From the moment our doors closed in March 2020, our administration began working around the clock to adapt our program into one that was both virtual and accessible. Clubs began having daily ZOOM calls with their members, calling families to just check in, making silly YouTube videos and connecting with teen members on safe and secure social media platforms. Even further, our administration ensured that no one was laid off and employees still had plenty of work to do. With our hallways emptied, we were divided into small teams that could easily work in a socially-distanced manner and were assigned to a number of facility maintenance projects. We knew that one day our Club members would return, and when they did, we wanted their Clubs to be fresh, clean, and updated. I was assigned to the floors team. This team was charged with stripping and waxing all of the floors in each of the fourteen Clubs. For about eight weeks straight, I became overly familiar with the burning, sterile scent of Zep Heavy Duty Floor Products. Even with an industrial mask, the sharp and bitter aroma of the cleaner was pungent. Now, anytime the floors need to be done in my own building, I am taken back to those 14 weeks there were no kids in the hallways. Fortunately, we re-opened our doors to our Club members on June 1st, 2020 with strict health and safety protocols, and only at half capacity. We remained at half capacity until June 1st, 2021 when we were finally able to fully re-open our sites. Our numbers have still not returned to what they were, but we are slowly getting there. The important thing to us is that we are able to safely provide much-needed services to our community.

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This item was submitted on July 2, 2021 by Jared Goins using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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