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Finding comfort & resources during a pandemic

Posted on January 13, 2021 at 6:00 am

By Susan Goertz

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate, reschedule, reimagine, and even relocate. This has been a time of radical transformation for many, if not all of us.

While the pandemic has left few lives untouched, its effects have not been equitable. Some of us have struggled with cabin fever and online shopping binges, while some—the most vulnerable among us—struggle to meet their most basic needs.

Food insecurity, job instability, covering the cost of rent and utilities, and lacking safe shelter from weather and viruses loom large for many. We are each fighting to meet different needs and deserve support in this era of uncertainty.

Spokane County organizations and Spokane County Library District have useful resources and community support available to help with the most urgent needs.

General resources

The Fig Tree: This online newspaper provides a Resources Directory, which is very comprehensive and regularly updated and links to a COVID-19 Google map with locations for resources and a COVID-19 Resources Supplement. Directory translations are available in multiple languages as well.

Their website divides information into the following categories:

  • Senior Resources
  • Child and Family Resources
  • Human Services
  • Justice Action Resources
  • Healthcare Resources
  • Environmental Resources
  • Civic Services, including services for veterans and the formerly incarcerated

The Fig Tree is pretty comprehensive, but it can also be a bit overwhelming to navigate. So, I’m sharing the following specific resource options to highlight those that address some of the most urgent needs facing our community during the pandemic.

Food insecurity

Even traditional agencies like food banks are adapting to the pandemic. Many of them now provide drive-through, hands-free service. Some organizations will even deliver directly to your residence.

Special Mobility Services (SMS) is partnering with local organizations like Jewels Helping Hands and Spokane Food Fighters to create a centralized food delivery system for Spokane County. You can sign up for food delivery and volunteer to help at their website.

Housing

The Spokane Resource Center has a COVID-19 Housing page for rental assistance.

The Spokane Resource Center has partnered with local organizations, including Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (also known as SNAP), Catholic Charities, and the Spokane Housing Authority to provide housing counseling, low income housing, and workshops to help find permanent residences. 

SNAP also offers programs like energy assistance, essential home repair, foreclosure prevention loans, weatherization, and other resources to help find and maintain safe permanent housing.

Transportation

If you are struggling to find safe reliable transportation, Special Mobility Services (SMS) provides intercity shuttle services, dial-a-ride service within Deer Park, and transportation for Medicaid patients to medical appointments. Check out their website to see a list of routes and determine your eligibility.

Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP) also provides transportation to urgent care with their Spokane Ride to Health program.

Mental health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Spokane Chapter has a COVID-19 guide to explore. It is an impressively comprehensive guide that covers a wide range of topics in depth. You’ll find information for caregivers, immigration assistance, healthcare access, and how to battle feeling isolated at home. They also offer an Online Support Group page that is a great place to start if you want to talk to someone right away.

Safety in the home & domestic violence

It is more than unfortunate that not everyone is safe in their own home. The pandemic has made this fact even more obvious as people have less opportunity to leave their homes and less access to other safe spaces.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides free, confidential support for people experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning whether their relationship is safe and healthy.

RAINN has a free 24/7 hotline that connects individuals to a local service provider who can give them information and access to numerous resources, including in languages other than English.

Financial help

If you’re trying to re-establish your credit or restore banking privileges, SNAP has money management workshops to help. They also partner with local credit unions to offer Second Chance Banking for those who have never had an account, need assistance using the account, or have been threatened with losing an account.

If you are looking to get your paperwork in order or if you are starting to think a will might be a good idea, you can find examples and templates using our digital resource Gale Legal Forms found in our Digital Library.

Job hunting, career planning & education

With high unemployment rates, now is a very nerve wracking time for job hunters. You can navigate through the maze with help from resources in our Digital Library.

You may already know about JobNow and the help you can get writing resumes and cover letters, and practicing your interview skills with live job coaches.

Now with JobNow, if you need to file for unemployment, they will help you fill out the forms and they have live unemployment assistance daily from 3–9pm.

Peterson’s Test and Career Prep has resources for going to college, developing new skills, and starting a new career path. You’ll find test preparation and practice exams for standardized tests, vocational test prep tools, and a nifty career explorer feature. HelpNow provides access to online tutors for all ages and also has college and career preparation resources.

LinkedIn Learning and Gale Courses are go-to resources for learning a new skill or leveling up your career trajectory. Between these two resources, they cover a very wide range of business skills, technical skills, and so much more.

View this article from Indeed.com for great pointers if you’re facing your first zoom interview and feeling trepidation.

New & small businesses

If you own a small business or are thinking of starting one, you are not alone. With financial realities forcing people to retire later or find new ways to earn income after layoffs, self-employment may be a viable option and has its advantages. Having total control over your economic wellbeing could be a concept you’d like to explore, if you haven’t already.

A great starting point if you are considering creating your own business is the Small Business Association’s (SBA) Business Guide. The guide walks you through the process of planning, launching, managing, and growing your business step by step.

Washington business owners with a local focus may want to check out Startup Washington for videos, courses, articles, and resources for businesses, entrepreneurs, and, you guessed it, startups.

Focusing specifically on the Spokane area, Spokane SCORE offers lunchtime business workshops in partnership with the Library District. The next online SCORE Business class at the library is on Wednesday, January 20, at 12pm: Simple Steps for Starting Your Business. After you register, you’ll receive the login information for the online workshop.

SNAP Financial Access also has some great business resources, financial assistance, and advisors for small businesses and training available through their Women’s Business Center.

All the organizations I have mentioned are looking for volunteer and financial support. If you would like to get more involved in your community and empower organizations to become part of the solution now is a great time to step in. Whatever you can provide is greatly needed.

Feeling in over your head with all these assistance options? Contact the Library District, and we will be happy to help you research. For quick research questions, get help using our Ask a Librarian form. For one-on-one help with your question or research, you can request a virtual Book-a-Librarian appointment.

At the Library, we are ready and willing to support you, no matter what challenges you are facing. Let us help you find answers, as we face this strange new storm.

Susan Goertz

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