Hey there, BRIDGE Families! JV Here!
I know times are hectic at the very least, if not downright scary. Tensions are running high, with people worried about health, loss of work, and the other very present dangers coming up during this crisis.
We at BRIDGE want you to know that we are here for you and your family! I, specifically, wanted to do something nice for those with youngsters suddenly stuck at home. So, starting on Monday, at 1:00 pm, I will be reading some of our favorite books on Instagram Live. We will be going through some of our favorites from various writers, including Brad Meltzer, Monica Sheehan, Dawn Casey, Claire Rudolph Murphy, and yours truly!
If you would like to tune in to that, please click here, and give us a follow. We are @MulticulturalBRIDGEReads on Instagram.
If you’re adjusting to home educational programs, I have some recommendations for things to consider. If you’re looking to help your young people engage in learning activities, check out Kiwico, a company dedicated to making science fun to learn for young people.
When I was younger, nothing was more exciting than getting to build things and explore how the world works. I was totally a science kid, and I’m sure some of you parents were too. I also know, and parents can back me up on this part, that one of the most fun times you can have with your kid is helping them put together a cool project. Have fun and turn your home into a mini science fair! Sounds fun, right? Kiwico has a bunch of free projects on their resources page. Click here to check those out.
Also, here's some context for this next recommendation: At our summer program, Happiness Toolbox, we focus on our character strengths. If you want to figure out what your character strengths are, click here to visit the VIA Character Institute Strength Survey.
A game I’ve played with a lot of my classes is called “Tower”. The instructions couldn’t be more simple. Just gather a bunch of plastic cups (for a team/family of 2-6 people, I’d recommend 100-250 plastic cups) and work together to build the best tower you can. This game is deceptively fun for everybody from age 5 to 75, maybe even 105! This activity encourages teamwork and communication, helps develop problem-solving skills, exercises your child’s spatial awareness and planning skill, and most importantly, helps your child build up their resilience skills in a very low stakes way. This is my favorite activity to play with any group because it’s a wonderful icebreaker activity. This is really popular with ages 8.5 to 12, but if you have a teenager at home, you can make it more complicated by adding different challenges or even setting a time limit. It’s highly adaptable, and once you start, you’ll be amazed at how quickly time flies.
If you’re looking for more things for your youngsters to engage with, might I recommend Audible? Audible has a plethora of FREE audiobooks for kids, tweens, and teens! Click here to see some of what they offer. I personally love Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland for ages 7 to 12. And a special tip for high school students, who may have been asked to read some of the classic literature, having it read to you might make it easier to absorb. My all-time favorites (for teenagers) are Pride and Prejudice and Frankenstein.
That’s all for me today! Stay safe out there, and remember to wash your hands. We will be alright, and we will get through this. Try to stay positive, and don’t forget to find things that make you smile.
I will talk to you all again soon!
PS: Stay tuned! I'll be back with more activities and games soon. Stay safe out there!!~
PPS: Parents, here is an uplifting video: on Character Strengths.
Dear BRIDGE Families,
The BRIDGE team is extending immense love and care to you all during this time of great concern and the unknown. We hope that this letter finds you and your family hunkering down in good health and using your many character strengths (especially courage, patience, and creativity!) to get through this time.
First and foremost, we are writing to check in, let you know what resources are available, and find out how we can best support you and your family.
Copied below are a list of community resources, including Berkshire County locations offering grab & go breakfast and lunches for students. If you or your family are in need of support with food or supplies pick-ups, send requests to email@example.com so we can support you in getting what you need. Please call the office if you do not have email. It may take 2-3 business days given our COVID-19 schedule.
We also wanted to share some digital resources that may be helpful during this time:
We are deeply committed to seeing our community through safely, in good health, and in a sound body until we can all be together again. The Coronavirus is creating challenges for all of us but we know that we will make it through together with lots of love, communication, and care. We will keep you updated with new information, community resources/supports available, and will be sharing a Happiness Toolbox Webinar as well as at-home activity project ideas.
Please reach out to let us know how you are doing and how BRIDGE can make our best effort to support you with food/supplies pickup & delivery, community connections, or other needs that may arise during this time.
Again, we are taking all requests at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in need of help connecting with services, please contact email@example.com separately.
Your BRIDGE Family
Stephanie Wright, Lead Educator and Community Engagement Coordinator
Ari Cameron, BRIDGE Co-Chair
Gwendolyn VanSant, CEO and Founding Director
See more information here on local resources including food and medical services.
Estimadas familias de BRIDGE:
El equipo de BRIDGE está extendiendo un inmenso amor y cuidado a todos ustedes durante este tiempo de gran preocupación a lo desconocido. Esperamos que esta carta les encuentre a usted y su familia acurrucados con buena salud y utilizando sus fortalezas de carácter (¡especialmente coraje, paciencia y creatividad!) Para superar este momento.
En primer lugar, estamos escribiendo para saber de ustedes e informarles qué recursos están disponibles y descubrir cómo podemos apoyar mejor a usted y a su familia.
A continuación, se incluye una lista de recursos de la comunidad, incluidas las ubicaciones del condado de Berkshire que ofrecen desayunos y almuerzos para llevar a los estudiantes. Si usted o su familia necesitan apoyo para recoger alimentos o suministros, envíe sus solicitudes a firstname.lastname@example.org para que podamos ayudarlo a obtener lo que necesita. Por favor llame a la oficina si no tiene correo electrónico. Puede tomar de 2 a 3 días hábiles dado nuestro programa COVID-19.
También queríamos compartir algunos recursos digitales que pueden ser útiles durante este tiempo:
Estamos profundamente comprometidos a ver nuestra comunidad de manera segura, con buena salud y un cuerpo sano hasta que podamos estar todos juntos nuevamente. El Coronavirus está creando desafíos para todos nosotros, pero sabemos que lo lograremos juntos con mucho amor, comunicación y cuidado. Lo mantendremos actualizado con nueva información, recursos ,apoyos comunitarios disponibles, y compartiremos un seminario en internet de Happiness Toolbox, así como ideas de proyectos de actividades en el hogar.
Comuníquese con nosotros para informarnos cómo le está yendo y cómo BRIDGE puede hacer el mejor esfuerzo para apoyarlo con la recolección y entrega de alimentos / suministros, conexiones con la comunidad u otras necesidades que puedan surgir durante este tiempo.
Nuevamente, estamos tomando todas las solicitudes en email@example.com. Si necesita ayuda para conectarse con los servicios, comuníquese con firstname.lastname@example.org por separado.
Tu familia BRIDGE
Stephanie Wright, educadora principal y coordinadora de participación comunitaria
Ari Cameron, Coopresidenta de BRIDGE
Gwendolyn VanSant, CEO y Director Fundador
“This is how we will survive and hold together. It will work. I don't know how long it will last, but for now, it will work.” ~Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
Dear BRIDGE Community:
As we all have been learning and preparing our community and families to respond to the pandemic, COVID-19, I can’t help reflect and remind us that we have this opportunity right now where we have to show real care and compassion in our community.
“Staying home” may be daunting for some. It may mean loss of wages/income, loss of community, loss of childcare and/or loss of family visits. For some it may be a matter of life and death if YOU decide to stay home. It is not an act of fear to self-quarantine if you have the privilege to do so, it may mean the ultimate act of kindness and care. Those of us that have to go out for the various reasons, to keep our communities and families operating and running, to care for those who need care and/or to meet essential needs we have to show care and embodied attention we may have been less attentive to. All of these things are learning opportunities for us. It is an opportunity for mindfulness. We touch our face 350 times a day by habit so try to have a tissue or kerchief on hand. Use soap and water to wash hands. Sanitize keyboards, handles and door knobs regularly.
Some of our colleagues invited me to share the message that we should not only be sending love to those worried about safety and security -- whether it be financial, emotional, psychological and/or otherwise health-related --but just as much we should challenge ourselves to be sending love to COVID-19. (That’s a twist, right?) We are listening to and learning from her as much we are meant to do the same from our Mother Earth and her lessons. Honor our humanity, honor our connectedness and honor our planet. We are all each other’s keeper.
In wishing us all well-being, I have included helpful links below that we have reviewed with members of our BRIDGE family that work in community health and public health as professionals on a local and national level as well as other trusted advisors. Dr. Setti as an MD in community health who serves on our board and Lily Swartz as a trusted advisor in public health communications have been a major support to our operations team. I hope these articles are ones that help you have conversations with family, colleagues and community members of all ages which in turn can help you prepare well. Several of these update regularly!
National and Massachusetts news and updated on COVID-19:
Coronavirus Resources for understanding:
Reading with an impact and equity analysis:
For youth and family conversations:
on a business note
As many of you have noted, we have postponed most large convenings that we have been a part of as host, co-host or have organized. Most near future meetings we will be conducting remotely at BRIDGE per Massachusetts and Berkshire public health guidelines.
Shortly, our trainings will be available remotely accompanied by video chats and webinars. Next week, I will do my fourth Twitter Chat on having an equity and privilege analysis on COVID-19 as we take care of ourselves, our families and each other in community. Stay tuned for more opportunities to engage with BRIDGE.
We are continuing with the ACLU - MA and community leaders convening over Zoom on Tuesday for the program What A Difference A DA makes. (March 17th!) Also we plan to move ahead with future programming as much as we can thinking about access for our stakeholders.
IDEA Institute launches at BRIDGE. (Thanks to support of Moonlight Mile Family Fund and our Moonlight Mile Circle along with the pending Lennox Foundation support, we are finally here!)
Our train-the-trainer program is launching its pilot in April. We are planning on launching in person if possible but if not we will be broadcasting and recording the session for accessibility. The program will run for 20 hrs in April and 20 hrs in May. All interests in taking our Cultural Competence Foundations core training programs are welcome to join us in April. Please find the links here: IDEA Institute: Cultural Competence Foundations Community (Track 1) Course: runs April 17-19th (20 hrs.) and the pilot train-the-trainer is for BRIDGE staff and our business members of the Impact and Changemaker Circles as we build capacity in our networks! the IDEA Institute: Train-the-Trainer (Track 2) Course - 40 hrs: dates are April 16-19th and May 21-24th. Please email email@example.com for inquiries.
We have some exciting staff transitions taking place right now! As you know Dr. Williams served as our Senior Education and Engagement Director (SEED.) She has been recruited for the University of Pittsburgh as the Vice President of Academic Affairs and will stay on remotely as our Special Projects Director with occasional visits and projects in the Berkshires over this year and beyond. We had a wonderful year of collaborating with Dr. Emily Williams internally and have benefited greatly from her professionalism and expertise. We have several projects underway and are excited to continue to work together in the future. Silvia Soria has served as our bilingual facilitator and is moving in to the Women to Women Coordinator role as programs and opportunities grow for that program. Elie Yeo has been serving as our Business and Finance Fellow and is now officially a part of our staff as our Business and Finance Coordinator.
Here is another reflection for our looking ahead that I appreciated:
“Mercury retrograde, in general, is great for the re-’s: redo, revise, revisit, rethink, refocus, etc. Release and revamp!” And also as our newest board member reminded us on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day that we have another set of “re-s”, Rev. Sloan Letman IV calls us to take note: it is time to “renew, (re)build and restore!”
On a community note - if you can help (leverage your resources for others, keep reading!)
We are connected to families facing delayed seasonal jobs already, missing work due to no childcare or missing paid programing. We have several staff that double as caregivers for their elder parents or family members that are auto immune compromised as many of our neighbors do. We are looking to organize resources to support these families.
If you can make a donation, please mark it COVID-19: W2W for immigrant women and families, COVID-19: TRJ&E for Racial justice for any racial equity issues attached to this virus or COVID-19: HT for our Happiness Toolbox Families or in the memo/comments on PayPal please write COVID-19 Aide. And please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know you have done so and how you would like your support applied. Also, BRIDGE itself could use support to help our team working remotely with equipment and technology enhancements. Let us know if you can help! COVID-19: Capacity. You can contact us here: https://www.multiculturalbridge.org/support-us.html.
Additionally, we may need support for individuals and families that need food/supplies picked up and dropped off. Please email Rsvp@multiculturalbridge.org if you can support food & supply delivery. In the title of the email, please include the words Rideshare: Meals/Supplies. We are connected to our local Emergency Preparedness teams and networked across the county and so, if there are needs you do not see here, please let us know and we can connect you to the right resources.
"Persisting isn't always safe, but it's often necessary….We persist. This is our place, no matter what." ~Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
And finally I leave you with one of my favorite Kripalu Let Your Yoga Dance (LYYD) and Certificate in Positive Psychology (CIPP) treasures, this metta of lovingkindness:
May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy.
May you be filled with lovingkindness.
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May you be well in body and mind.
May you be at ease and happy. ~ Lovingkindness meditation
Stay well- I have been enjoying fire cider shots and about to make my own this week!
"We can get ready. That's what we've got to do now. Get ready for what's going to happen, get ready to survive it, get ready to make a life afterward. Get focused on arranging to survive...!" ~Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower