YWCA Clark County’s summer celebration for its independent living skills clients was much more subdued than normal.
Tuesday’s scaled-down party went without its usual big barbecue, tie-dye water fights and pinata. This summer, the organization limited it to 12 participants spaced out over two hours. They did tie-dye (sans water fights), ate tacos and sat in lawn chairs spaced apart to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
It was the first time in months that YWCA staff interacted in person with their independent living skills participants, youth who have aged out of the foster care system. The program has done most of its work remotely since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re still continuing on,” said Kit Kuran, the program’s director. “Our work is very hands-on, so it’s been a big adjustment.”
Before the pandemic, staff were out in the community helping youth access jobs and resources.
Julie Tappan, a resource specialist, said she keeps in contact with clients through texts, phone calls and Facebook Messenger. Sometimes, she mails things they need such as cleaning supplies or gift cards.
“I miss seeing them,” she said.
That made Tuesday’s summer celebration a rare treat. It had been months since Tappan saw her client Breeanna Campbell, who’s in extended foster care. When the pandemic started, the 20-year-old was finishing up high school, attending college and taking care of her son Carter.
“Mentally, it was hard to keep up,” she said. “Everything is interrupted.”
Carter, who is 8 months old, has grown a lot since Tappan last saw him at the beginning of March. Campbell said it’s a bummer that people can’t come over to her house to talk.
“I enjoy seeing the people on my team,” she said. “They are a lot of support.”
Texting is how they usually keep in touch. Between being a mom and working a job installing windshields, Campbell doesn’t have a lot of free time. Still, she knows the YWCA staff are watching out for her and have her back.
“Some kids, that’s all they have,” Campbell said.