“Wow!!! What a few days this has been. If you are like me, your perception of the seriousness of the COVID-19 coronavirus threat has dramatically changed over the past week or two and especially the past few days… As an agency, we are going to take seriously the precautions from the Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) and the CDC, as well as our local, state and national leaders.”
And that we did! This opening paragraph from my email to staff on March 17 came just five days after our first email about the coronavirus threat (on March 12), which highlighted AGAPE’s preparedness and the need for extra sanitary precautions. Things sure changed in a hurry! I’ll bet they did for you too. They did for all of us.
Before I get too far into sharing with you AGAPE’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since those first few emails, I want to say thank you! Thank you for your past support of AGAPE. When Nashville Mayor Cooper declared a Safer at Home Order on March 15, he affirmed what we already knew and what you have proven through your support for AGAPE in the past – that AGAPE’s services are essential for the good of Middle Tennessee.
March 17 was our “D-day” or decision day. Out of deep concern for our staff, their safety and the health of all those we serve, our leadership team and Board of Directors committed to moving as many of our staff as possible to work remotely and provide services from the safety of their homes.
By Friday the 20th, all of our professional counselors, case managers and administrative professionals were equipped to work remotely. Generous past contributions enabled AGAPE to implement those immediate technology changes that would allow approximately 80% of our staff to serve safely from home. However, assisting victims of domestic violence through extreme trauma as they seek safety from an abuser requires personal, frontline service 24 hours a day. Our dedicated advocates courageously continue to carry out our mission at the Morning Star shelter and the Family Safety Center with the recommended hygienic precautions. And while approximately 75% of our counseling sessions have transitioned to either teletherapy or virtual therapy, some clients’ needs require personal interaction. Our therapists continue to provide for their needs too.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.” II Tim. 1:7
Much has changed in our world since that March 12 email. Our perceptions have changed; our daily work-life has changed; but our passion and commitment to serving families and children in a crisis is unwavering, and our mission is fixed. Whatever our circumstances, AGAPE is called to serve in our community:
- Called to deliver the same professional services for children and families with the love of Christ.
- Called to continue caring for children in foster care, 45 currently, with another 16 families in the process to be certified to take in children in need of a loving Christian home.
- Called to offer shelter for women and children escaping abusive homes. A reminder that many among us are not “safer at home.”
- Called to meet an even greater need for professional Christian counseling with adults, children and families during these uncertain times.
Thanks to your faithful support, we know God will allow us to use this opportunity in ways we never imagined on March 12. Here are just a few examples:
On April 8, we experienced an AGAPE “first.” After 787 days in foster care, October Sky (pictured right) was officially adopted into her forever family… via Zoom! That’s right – the adoption of this little girl was on track to happen this spring. Through the cooperation of the court system and everyone involved, her adoption proceeded as scheduled, but instead of occurring in a court room, it took place on a video call!
We also have many children attend therapy sessions each week. Pictured here is a child participating in a virtual therapy session from home with her therapist. Isn’t technology great? And later this month, we’ll be hosting our first online-only foster parent training series to equip more families to care for children.
Of course, there are tenuous times ahead, and that has financial implications on AGAPE. Operationally, we rely on about 45% of our revenue from individual donors like you. We are reading that nonprofits over the next 12-24 months could expect a decrease in giving by 18-25%. We are trusting the Lord to continue providing all that we need, just as He has in the past so that we can continue serving with the love of Christ.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
We have all been deeply impacted by this pandemic. So as you are able, we ask that you give to AGAPE as we know the need for our services is already growing from the stress and strain of social distancing and financial hardships.
As our fiscal year comes to a close on June 30, will you consider a gift to help us meet urgent needs and ensure AGAPE can continue serving those in our care and those who are reaching out for help? We need your support, and you can make a difference today. Thank you for giving what God has prompted you to offer, and please continue to pray for AGAPE and those we serve.
God’s grace and peace be with you,