Our newest series, A United Thread, highlights the importance of pulling together to collectively serve our community through an unprecedented time. In each segment, we feature an organization awarded COVID-19 grant money through United Way of Central Carolinas.
As a result of the coronavirus crisis, our community’s most critical nonprofits are feeling the strain as they experience an increased demand for services while simultaneously navigating decreased financial resources. Within multiple counties across the Charlotte region, United Way of Central Carolinas established COVID-19 response funds in partnership with Foundation For The Carolinas, and with the support of corporations, local government and others to assist local nonprofits serving on the front lines.
In this segment, we connect with Jessie Lindberg, executive director of Turning Point, Inc., to learn how the organization is navigating the pandemic.
How has COVID-19 impacted Turning Point?
Lindberg: Economic stress and isolation are two of the biggest contributors to domestic violence and child abuse, and those are at an all-time high for so many. Our counseling expenses have tripled since the start of the pandemic.
The effects of trauma for survivors of abuse are only heightened by a crisis that causes so much uncertainty and fear, and while fully escaping abuse might not seem like an option for many until this health crisis has subsided, victims are seeking counseling to address their trauma and how it has been magnified by the pandemic.
How has the organization adapted the way it delivers on its mission during the pandemic?
Lindberg: Our licensed, trauma-focused counselor is currently seeing domestic violence and sexual assault clients via telehealth and will continue to do so until it is determined that face-to-face sessions are once again safe. Our shelter has adopted strict cleaning and sanitization procedures and we are encouraging our clients to shelter in place as much as they can to prevent a potential COVID-19 outbreak in our shelter.
For almost three months, our Tree House Children’s Advocacy Center triaged any child abuse cases not deemed acute, as determined by the law enforcement officers making child abuse referrals. We are now seeing several families each week to decrease the wait list created by the pandemic, while utilizing strict health screening and cleaning/sanitization protocols. All mental health counseling for children seen at the Tree House is being done via telehealth.
Our Sexual Assault Resource Center Victim Advocate has been seeing clients virtually, and has seen an increase in sexual assault survivors seeking assistance. We have equipped the hospitals with our contact information as well as bags of needed items for survivors and we are still providing 24-hour response.
Several of our team members have been working remotely in an effort to keep everyone safe, and many are taking advantage of online trainings and webinars, and are also taking this time to reach out to supporters of our organization to thank them during these challenging times.
How is Turning Point using the grant money it received through the COVID-19 Response Fund?
Lindberg: The generous funding we received from United Way and Foundation For The Carolinas will be used for professional, trauma-focused client counseling expenses and bi-weekly professional sanitization at our shelter. With the funding, we will provide 8-12 counseling sessions to at least 45 clients in need. Of those served, 98 percent will self-report decreased depression and anxiety and 98 percent will report feeling less isolated due to professional counseling intervention.
Professional counseling is a vital service that Turning Point provides to help survivors of abuse and violence heal and gain independent, violence-free lives. Our ability to provide this service is critical to our overall mission.
What’s one personal testimonial you can share about the organization’s impact in the community?
Lindberg: Following episodes of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, Jennifer was accepted into Turning Point’s safe shelter. When Jennifer came in, she was very depressed and secluded herself by staying in her room as much as she could. The staff checked on her frequently, but with stay at home orders in place due to COVID-19, strict shelter guidelines put in place to help prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the shelter caused Jennifer to feel isolated again, increased her depression and enhanced the effects of the trauma she had endured her whole life.
Jennifer began receiving trauma-focused, professional counseling, case management and support from Turning Point’s shelter team. Jennifer started coming out of her shell and socializing more with the staff and other clients. She started searching for employment online and now has a job that she enjoys, and her co-workers treat her with respect and appreciation.
Jennifer was also able to find an apartment that she loves and was able to begin her new independent life. Through Turning Point’s client assistance funds, she received financial support and all the furnishings she needed to help her house feel like home. Upon completing the shelter program, Jennifer stated that Turning Point had saved her life and she now has true joy in her heart.
Outside of COVID-19, what is something people should know about Turning Point’s partnership with United Way?
Lindberg: Turning Point’s partnership with United Way is not only incredibly impactful to our organization from a financial perspective, but also from a community perspective. We place a huge emphasis on grassroots fundraising through strong community connections and partnerships, and true community engagement in our work through awareness and education. We know that United Way unites our community to support the common good.
We know that we receive support because our neighbors have determined that our work and our mission are worthy of that support, and that will ensure that we’ll be here to serve those who need us well into the future.
Learn more about United Way’s COVID-19 response efforts here.