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Neighborhood Center Adjusts to Meet Needs During COVID-19

September 28, 2020

The Jesse Cosby Neighborhood Center in Waterloo is typically a hotbed of activity, meeting face to face with low-income or no-income clients, providing on-site senior services, and mentoring youth. In March, the organization had to suddenly change how it served the people who rely on the center’s services.

“We had to do more outreach, talk to them on the phone to find out if there were things they needed,” said Jesse Henderson, executive director. “We had to start delivering meals to our seniors who are part of that most vulnerable group.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the neighborhood center hasn’t been able to carry out its typical fundraising events and has seen some grant opportunities disappear, reducing funding. At the same time, needs have increased for rent assistance, household items, food, and counseling services.

“We’ve seen more homeless clients and had more domestic violence situations. There’s been a reduction in people’s work hours, or they aren’t able to go back to work because they are high risk for infection,” said Jesse. “We can’t meet all their needs, but we have been able to help them as much as we could.”

In July, the organization received a $10,000 grant from the Black Hawk County COVID-19 Cooperative Disaster Response Fund to provide continued support for the community’s ongoing needs.

“The grant helps us assist clients who have been affected by COVID-19,” said Jesse. “It gives us a good feeling to be able to help as much as we can.”

The center has also put increased safety measures into place through the purchase of sneeze guards and masks and gloves in an effort to begin seeing more clients and bringing back programs to the building.

“We want to provide a safe environment for our clients,” said Jesse. “We are trying to get back to normal, but it’s a process.”