The Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry volunteers and staff have remained on the front lines of the pandemic serving families and workers in Jacksonville’s Beaches area communities who have been hard-hit by the economic impact of COVID-19.
Last weekend, BEAM organized a technology distribution for families enrolled in their Single Parent Program (SPP), an intensive case management program for single mothers, BEAM’s largest food pantry demographic. After receiving a major gift from an anonymous donor, BEAM was able to purchase 19 iPads for elementary-aged children and 11 brand new Dell laptops for middle and high school students. A majority of the families who received a new computer currently have no computer at home, or share one device with multiple family members.
“I don’t have to share your tablet anymore Mommy, now I have my own,” said Max, as he unwrapped his new iPad alongside his mother.
While Duval County Public Schools provided loaner laptops, the numbers available per household were limited and the units outdated. In addition, a number of single mothers enrolled in the SPP program are in school themselves taking online classes to earn associate’s or bachelor’s degrees. Multiple family members using one computer to complete schoolwork is nearly impossible.
“We wanted to do something special for the families because this year has been especially challenging. The parents are already abiding to strict budgets and new computers for their children were just not feasible,” said Gracie Simendinger, director of development for BEAM. “Fortunately, we had an incredible donor reach out to see how they could support the single mothers during these difficult times. We received a donation to cover the cost of brand, new units for every SPP school-aged child to support their academic success.”
BEAM’s Single Parent Program is currently assisting 41 mothers and their children. BEAM’s Single Parent Program is designed to interrupt the cycle of poverty for local single mothers and their children. Personalized case management and other services such as goal-setting workshops, parenting workshops and financial education are available for up to three years to enable single parents in our beach communities to reach their self-sufficiency goals.