Like many organizations and nonprofits, Ciudad Nueva has felt the incredible impact of COVID-19, in our youth programs, across our team, and with the people we serve. Based on “stay at home” orders and government recommendations, we’ve canceled some events and adjusted our youth programs to move online where possible. Yet in spite of these challenges, we are working together to adapt and continue our mission to serve the El Paso community.
Serving Students Online
We’ve moved many of our youth programs online so we can continue to assist students through after-school programs and mentoring. Thanks to technology like Zoom, FaceTime, Instagram, and YouTube, our team can stay connected with students to provide encouragement and guidance through this season.
Even with these tools, it can be challenging to connect. Some students have greater access to technology and Wi-Fi than others. And both staff and students miss in-person interactions.
“It’s hard not seeing the kids in person. I thought I had more time with them before the end of the year — more time to do the fun activities we had planned and to celebrate,” said Lexi Moles, middle school coordinator and office manager.
“The students are honestly such a joyful part of my week, and to be missing out on so much time with them is a huge bummer,” added Jen Foliaco, Launch Pad assistant. “I’ve been a little restless and anxious about how to serve the kids well, but I’ve also been encouraged watching Tamy and the rest of the Ciudad Nueva staff step up and meet really important needs in the community.”
Creating Moments for Meaningful Interactions
Lexi, Jen, our staff, and our volunteers are working diligently to adapt activities to meet students where they’re at. “I’ve been working with my middle school team to come up with ideas to make programs engaging and fun. Thankfully, I’m not alone in this,” shared Lexi.
The staff, mentors, and volunteers connect once a week online to touch base and discuss how things are going. Together, we brainstorm activities and ways to better engage students. We also pray for our team and the community. This time allows us to support one another in this season in addition to those we serve.
“Many of our volunteers have been so amazing and willing to step up, working to stay connected with the kids while dealing with technological difficulties and obstacles that can keep them from getting one-on-one mentoring and tutoring help,” said Jen. It hasn’t been easy, but we are thankful for the ongoing dedication our team shows for these kids.
In the midst of challenges, we continue to center on our mission and this important work, while taking time to celebrate the successes we see with the students we work with — both small and large.
“My main goal with Launch Pad has always just been to foster loving relationships with and among the students,” said Jen. “I’ve been seeing that goal met on Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. It’s not what I expected it to look like, but I’m witnessing kids figuring out how to navigate quarantine life and take care of themselves, their families, and their friends to the best of their ability, and that’s really all I could ask for.”
Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, the families of the students we work with are also facing financial hardships. One way that Ciudad Nueva continues to meet the needs they have is by providing them with nutritious food through our food co-op program. And it has been through the avenue of connecting our families with food that we have also been able to send along craft items to join in on fun project challenges, Easter treats, and personalized notes to let them know that we are thinking about them and that though we are apart from them, they are not alone.
“When we gave out the Easter bags, we put in little trinkets and candy, and things we knew they would like, and included a note that said we love you, we are thinking about you, we support you, the Lord is providing abundantly for you. They all sent text messages of thanks. Some even posted about it on their Instagram pages. They were excited to get them!” shared Keisha Branch, our high school program coordinator.
“Some of our kids are really nervous that their parents or grandparents might catch the virus. When asked what they would like prayer for, they have been asking for prayer for health and protection. They have had dreams and odd sleep schedules. Dealing with boredom coupled with fear. One positive thing is that they are not lacking much, but a lot of mental and physical stress and strain. Our students are sharing with us things that they might not otherwise would have shared because the connection we have with them has grown even more during this time.
It’s because of your ongoing support that we can continue to build these relationships with students in our community. If you want to find out how you can help Ciudad Nueva in this season, view our COVID Updates.
Ciudad Nueva is a community-based nonprofit that exists to advance the renewal and development of central El Paso’s Rio Grande neighborhood through the empowerment and transformation of its residents. Please join us this year! Call us today at 915-521-2951 or contact us online.