We are under duress because of the COVID-19 pandemic which spares no one as it affects people everywhere with debilitating or deadly results. This pandemic is not only a health issue, but it also poses serious social and economic consequences for people everywhere. NOC is witnessing the impact of this pandemic on the neighborhoods it serves. COVID-19 has made these families more vulnerable, adding to their distress and despair. They need relief and support to buy food and medicine and to pay rent and utilities.
NOC has the know-how, capacity, and experience to help the families it serves, selectively and on a small scale, complementing the collective support of public and private sectors.
NOC’s Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
NOC’s mission is to fight poverty by empowering people in poor neighborhoods, but during periods of calamity, NOC mobilizes its resources, knowledge, and social capital to help people that it serves directly. The scale of NOC intervention in such a situation is limited, but it complements the services of other public and private organizations. For example, consider NOC’s intervention in the aftermath of the 2016 devastating hurricane that impacted us locally.
In a rapid response to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, NOC launched a Special Storm Recovery Project to assist families severely impacted by this natural disaster. This was a highly successful endeavor that surpassed its outcome targets. At project completion, NOC helped 13 families (52 people), who were connected to NOC’s outreach programs, on a fast track to minimize hardship and suffering. By all accounts, this project was an example of best practice in dealing with disaster relief that made a difference in the lives of some families quickly and efficiently.
Because many of these families lost their homes, mainly because of flooding, NOC assisted 13 families with 4-8-week temporary accommodations located in Hilton Head Island, cash grants (in the form of gift cards) for families to buy food and clothing, and cash to pay rent in temporary accommodations.
Several innovative features made this initiative effective and efficient. First, NOC responded quickly to the immediate needs of these families for lodging and identified families in distress. NOC met with each family to listen to their assessment of their critical situation and to determine their needs and then develop solutions that allowed parents to maintain their jobs and keep children in their regular schools. NOC developed a simple framework to assess families’ needs and was able to respond quickly with a final decision. This framework built trust between NOC and the beneficiaries, greatly reduced bureaucracy and transaction costs, and allowed NOC to monitor the status and well-being of families at the ground level. It also ensured that funds were used efficiently, with accountability for their intended use and outcome. NOC directed more than $16,000.00 to this project, which was funded through various contributions (NOC’s Board of Directors, $6,000; the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, $5,000; and the Heritage Foundation, $5,000). While this project was not within the bounds of its normal operations, NOC demonstrated the capacity, know-how, and flexibility needed to respond to an immediate and urgent need of people served by NOC.
NOC is poised to do this again to help families adversely impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. NOC’s strategy is to tackle this problem by focusing on some NOC families who are in critical need of support without duplicating the efforts of others. NOC has identified rent payment as one of the critical needs since many people have either lost their jobs or are underemployed. To this end, NOC proposes cash payments averaging $500 per family. To fund this initiative, NOC has identified three clusters with request for funding from different sources, as shown below:
Cluster A: St Lukes Learning Center serving Cordillo Courts, Hedges, and Woodhaven Apartments (Funding request of $10,000 from Sisters of Charity Foundation or private donations to support 20 families.
Cluster B: Oaks and Island Lutheran in HHI serving mid-section and northern end of the Island; and ONYX, and Avalon Shores Learning Centers in Bluffton serving ONYX (Simmons Cay) and Avalon Shores Apartments; (Grant request from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry of $12,500 to support 25 families).
Cluster C: Marsh Pointe and Parkview Learning Centers in downtown Beaufort serving Marsh Point and Parkview subsidized housing complexes; (Grant request from the Coastal Community Foundation to support 20 families).
The goal of this emergency intervention would be to provide relief through a one-time fast-track support to some of the hardest hit families who are suffering as a result of this pandemic. The targeted families are connected to NOC’s outreach programs (education for children, health screenings, and workforce/community activities) at its seven learning centers in Beaufort County, SC. The objective would be to ensure that none of these families are evicted and become homeless, depriving them of the basic needs of shelter and safety.
NOC conducts its work with integrity and high standards. NOC has established robust internal controls, transparency, and accountability, as well as a financial management system. NOC accounts and financial statements are reviewed annually by independent auditors. Lastly, NOC has achieved a GUIDESTAR “Platinum Rating.”
Narendra P. Sharma, PhD.
Founder & Chair, NOC