GOSO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was swift — it had to be, our participants needed us more than ever as a reliable support system. We created new systems for communication, adapted to virtual platforms, and made sure that no participant lost touch with their GOSO family. As New York City has advanced through the protocols of reopening, we’ve remained nimble and developed strategies for providing GOSO participants with the essentials they need at a time when they needed it most.
On June 23rd, as part of Phase II reopening, GOSO staff was able to utilize our storefront office to set up a “curbside” indoor/outdoor support station at our East 116th Street headquarters. While always maintaining safe social distancing and observing all mandated protocols, GOSO has created an opportunity for face-time and a drop-by destination for healthy bagged lunches (generously provided by Bronx-based GOSOWorks partner Great Performances catering), MetroCards (to ensure participants continue to get to work, as many of GOSO’s participants are employed by essential businesses, and other important appointments), and more. We’ve packaged and distributed personal protective equipment (PPE) packets of masks, gloves and other safety products so that participants can go about their days safely, and adhere to the health guidelines across the city. All of these items, plus non-perishable items from our food pantry, are available not only to GOSO participants, but to any member of our East Harlem Community current in need.
Since reopening, we’re seeing close to 350 visitors per week at our drop-by station — plus all of the participants we continue to support virtually for individual and group therapy sessions, job readiness, academic tutoring and more.