Big Brothers Big Sisters finding new ways to help kids during COVID-19 pandemic

Big Brothers Big Sisters finding new ways to help kids during COVID-19 pandemic
Posted at 11:45 AM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 11:45:40-04

In the middle of a pandemic, 13-year-old Jade stood in her kitchen with her phone in her hand, listening intently to the instructions coming from the other end of her Zoom call.

It was her first time attempting to make Rice Krispies Treats.

“Cooking is one of my favorite things to do, but I still have a lot of things to work on,” she explained as she mixed a small cup of marshmallow with the cereal she’d already poured into a bowl.

For Jade and countless other kids across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant a sudden absence of social time with friends who they’d typically see at school. For Jade, the pressures of the pandemic can often be incredible loneliness, even with her grandma, grandpa and mom living at home with her.

“Two months ago, we were all hanging out. Now we’re all home. It’s really hard, but I’m getting used to it now,” she said.

Before the pandemic began, Jade was enrolled with the group Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts. In an effort to make sure Jade is handling the pressures of the pandemic, Jade’s “Big Sister” and mentor Angela Potts has been scheduling weekly Zoom calls.

From the very start of quarantine, the pair decided baking would be the way they would bond from afar.

“It keeps your mind off of everything negative that’s going on in the world,” Angela said from her kitchen as she added chocolate chips to the Rice Krispies Treats that she was making.

Each week, the pair chooses a recipe, then they schedule a time to cook together. Even though they aren’t meeting in person, it still gives Angela a chance to check on her mentee.

“If she needs someone to talk to, to reach out to, I’m here for her and I hope she knows that,” Angela added.

Across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters has turned to virtual meetups to make sure vulnerable kids and teens are still getting one-on-one time with mentors.

“Now is the time that kids need that extra support. The world is just in chaos, so we’re letting them know they aren’t alone,” said Courtney Evans who works for the nonprofit.

Until Big Brother and Big Sisters can meet with their mentees again safely in person, the organization says virtual meetups are making sure kids don’t slip through the cracks.

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.