BUILDING EXCELLENCE In DeKalb
Damon Scott, Human Services Director
LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR
Despite the challenges of the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the DeKalb Human Services Department has provided over 105,020 meals to more than 1,000 DeKalb seniors, established virtual platforms to host online classes for 1,000 seniors and 1,000 youth and provided 152 seniors with transportation to medical appointments and dialysis. 

In this edition of our newsletter, we invite you to learn more about how we have modified and enhanced our services, programs and activities in order to meet the needs of the communities that we serve.

Our seniors remain connected and engaged. Our youth are entertained and actively learning. Individuals and families are receiving emergency meals and access to information and referral services. Department volunteers have been recognized for their hard work and we continue to engage our community partners. The annual Human Services Grants program has been launched and applications are currently in the evaluation process.

It is my sincere hope that you and your families remain safe during these challenging times and that you remain hopeful- that better days are ahead.

Damon Scott, Director
DeKalb Human Services Department
HUMAN SERVICES
LEADING THE WAY FOR A VIRTUAL DEKALB
The Human Services Department was recently featured on Let's Talk DeKalb- D.C.T.V. Please click on the link above to see the program. Our Department continues to serve the community during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
Human Services-Impacting DeKalb
KEEPING IN TOUCH-
SENIORS SAFELY ENGAGED & CONNECTED
DeKalb Senior Virtual Learning Environment
While the current COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected seniors throughout the world, it has not diminished the spirit of seniors living in DeKalb County. Seniors who normally attend DeKalb senior centers for a variety of classes and activities have been sheltered in place at home. A virtual platform for classes and other entertainment allows the seniors to maintain safe social distancing practices while interacting with their peers. Approximately seventy (70) classes that were normally held in person have been converted to a virtual platform- connecting instructors with the senior participants in a safe way. Classes are available from DeKalb's senior centers, including Tai Chi, Mindfulness, piano and guitar lessons, Computer Basics, and much more.

Dialing In
Central DeKalb Senior Center (CDSC) and Lou Walker Senior Center staff members began the quarantine by conducting daily phone check-in with its members.
 
Marian Slater, CDSC receptionist, begins each week with Coffee and a Chat for members. Marian also shares a Motivational Moment on Monday to encourage CDSC members to stay safe and positive during these challenging times, as part of the wellness checks goal set by Human Services. 
Office of Aging Teams Up with DeKalb Mobile Market & Kaiser Permanente for Senior Drive-thrus
DeKalb County’s Human Services neighborhood and senior centers continue to join forces with Fresh on DeK and Kaiser Permanente serving more than 400 seniors by providing access to fresh produce, PPE Kits, COVID-19 safety tips, and nutritional education! 
September is National Senior Center Month
The 2020 theme is: Senior Centers: Delivering Vital Connections!
This year’s theme was chosen to highlight how senior centers deliver vital connections to support older adults aging well. Celebrate with us by attending the events below:

Thursday, September 10 | 2:00-3:00pm

Join our virtual town hall to understand the challenges and opportunities of Election 2020. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women’s suffrage, the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The pandemic is shaping how people vote, the ways senior centers and other nonprofits serve their communities, and the most pressing policy priorities.

Please click here to register for this event.
Aint No Stopping Us Now - an LWSC Drama Club Production
Thursday, September 10 | 5:00-7:00pm

An evening of entertainment and laughter in a virtual theatrical performance presented by the Lou Walker Senior Center Drama Club. Prepare to be impressed by seniors who dare to entertain you with their innovative, witty, creative, and down-right funny skits! Look forward to seeing you at the show!

Please click here to register for this event.
Emergency Assistance Available for Eligible Seniors
Application deadline has been extended: 
November 1, 2020, 5:00pm

DeKalb for Seniors, Inc. in partnership with the Lou Walker Senior Center has received a federal grant to provide DeKalb County senior residents with assistance facing a food and/or housing security crisis due to the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Eligible seniors will receive funds based upon documentation of need and is subject to the availability of funds.

Click here (PDF version) to view eligibility requirements and to download the application.

Applications may be submitted in one of two ways:
  1. By email to: Sharyn Hailey at smhailey@dekalbcountyga.gov.
  2. Hand deliver to:
Lou Walker Senior Center
2538 Panola Road
Stonecrest, GA 30058

Applications should be left at the front desk in the secured drop box. Please be sure you abide by CDC guidelines and wear a face covering to enter the building.

For more information, contact Sharyn Hailey at smhailey@dekalbcountyga.gov
REACHING DEKALB'S CHILDREN & YOUTH
Children & Youth Virtual Village and Bridging the Digital Divide
The Virtual Village is an online platform that was launched this summer by the Human Services Department as a result of the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The summer session of the Virtual Village included more than thirty (30) classes and programs which connected instructors on a weekly basis with over 500 youth participants in a safe way. The platform includes information, classes and activities for parents and youth (from birth through 18 years of age).

Class topics included dance, theater/film, arts & crafts, technology, media, cooking and more. Featured classes were free to DeKalb County residents. To address the “digital divide”, the DeKalb Human Services Department partnered with Inspiredu, formally PowerMyLearning of Greater Atlanta, to distribute free refurbished computers to qualifying families.

If you missed the Virtual Village "Alone But Together" end of year celebration, watch it below!
Baby Box Program
DeKalb Office of Youth Services recently provided safe sleep tools to parents of infants who are scheduled to be discharged from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Bobbie Bailey’s Women Center at Emory Decatur Hospital. Since 2017, the Office of Youth Services has partnered with Emory Decatur Hospital to offer in-person monthly classes to expecting and new parents of DeKalb County.

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Youth Services team developed virtual format of the course. Each participant receives education on the ABCs of Safe Sleep which includes a post-test to measure the extent to which they retained the information provided. Upon successful completion parents are given a safe sleep space for baby and access to additional resources offered by Helping Mamas.
Every Georgia Child Deserves a Great Start
First Steps – DeKalb County connects families to parenting resources and a wide range of community services that improve child and family well-being. We provide families with a localized community resource guide and connections to relevant resources and age-appropriate information.

This service is for any pregnant woman or family with children ages 0-5 residing in DeKalb County and is FREE!!!

Know someone who could use a Great First Step?
Give us a call at 404-990-7303 or email Johnetta Corley at: jlcorley@dekalbcountyga.gov.

Click here to view the flyer.
Youth Commissioners Wanted
The Office of Youth Services is excited to open our 2020 - 2021 DeKalb County Youth Commission application to the public. The Youth Commission is a leadership program designed to involve youth from various socioeconomic backgrounds and multicultural neighborhoods with opportunities to have their voice heard in their communities. Youth Commissioners sponsor service projects and learn about the vast dynamics of county government.

Serving as a Youth Commissioner is a fun and unique experience which offers opportunities for DeKalb youth to develop their leadership skills and represent their peers while working with local elected officials. There are currently eighteen (18) scheduled vacancies on the DeKalb County Youth Commission. To apply, applicants must be DeKalb County residents entering 10th – 12th grade in fall 2020. The application deadline has been extended to Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

For more information on the DeKalb County Youth Commission, please contact Kristen Wimberly, (470)543-0761 or kwimberly@dekalbcountyga.gov.

Please click here for applications and additional recruitment information.
ADDRESSING FOOD INSECURITY
MARTA Collaboration Gets Food to Families
Shelter In Place orders established to address the COVID-19 (Corona-virus) pandemic greatly impacted the economy and the need for transportation services. As a result of reduced ridership and in order to comply with CDC public health guidelines, MARTA consolidated its bus routes and schedules throughout the Atlanta Metro area.

This change affected access to two DeKalb Food Pantries that provide much needed food and supplies to families who are food insecure - the Toco Hills Community Alliance Food Pantry and Malichi’s Storehouse in Dunwoody. Local residents in need of this service would have to walk home with heavy boxes of food because of the reduced bus service.

The Human Services Department was able to partner with MARTA to find a solution. The Department's Transportation Division was able to provide a shuttle service for local residents who wanted to go to Malichi’s food pantry on Wednesdays and on Tuesdays and Thursdays transportation was provided the Toco Hills Community Alliance. The shuttle has been operating for the last three months. To date, 571 DeKalb residents have received transportation rides to these two food pantries.
Farmers Market Provides Much Needed Support to Seniors
The Department's Office of Aging received 250 vouchers to purchase fruits and vegetables from Georgia approved farmers for this year's Georgia Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition program.

Eligible seniors receive a $20.00 voucher that can be used to select fresh fruits and vegetables. The program was modified this year as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Department was able to use OWL transportation to deliver fruits and vegetables to the seniors and staff places the bag in the seniors' trunk. Each senior also receives a nutrition education flyer and a copy of the Virtual Learning Environment classes.
A CAUSE TO CELEBRATE
Over 5,ooo Hours of Volunteer Time Leads to Increase in Reading Scores
To celebrate the achievement, United Way of Greater Atlanta, DeKalb County Schools and DeKalb County Human Services Office of Partnerships and External Affairs (OPEA) gathered virtually on May 12th to celebrate the volunteer tutors who enlisted to aid in raising the reading proficiency level of elementary students at E. L. Miller, Redan, Stoneview and Murphy Candler Elementary Schools.
 
The AARP Experience Corp Volunteer Program launched in the Fall of 2019 utilizing persons over the age of 50. The volunteer tutors donated 5,350 hours of their time, and as a result, a majority of the students exceeded their MEP goals and increased their reading scores. A catered lunch was hand delivered by Chef Donald Wilson and OPEA Staff while attendees listened to remarks by representatives from United Way, AARP Foundation Experience Corps, Damon Scott from Human Services, other representatives from all partners; and Atlanta based National Rap Recording Artist Scotty ATL. Custom gift baskets were also provided to all volunteers courtesy of Georgia Gifts and More.
 
Plans are being made to continue the AARP EC Volunteer Tutor Program virtually in Fall 2020.
CASE MANAGEMENT TELE-VISITS
Case Managers are still conducting in-home visits (in accordance with COVID-19 safety measures) in addition to tele-visits to continue to provide seniors with access to services and support that help them enhance their quality of life while living within their communities.

For further information about case management and other services provided by the Office of Aging, contact the DeKalb County Office of Aging at (770) 322-2950.
WHAT'S NEXT?
Virtual Village 2.0
September 28 - December 11

The Office of Youth Services will provide online after school virtual programming to DeKalb youth. Details coming soon!

The DeKalb Office of Youth Services has an exciting opportunity to provide online after school programming to DeKalb Youth, and we are looking for instructors to join our Virtual Village 2.0.

Proposals are due by:
5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9, 2020

"Wow, That's Crazy!" Youth Mental Health Symposium
Thursday, October 1 | 6:00-7:30pm

This forum will provide DeKalb County youth, parents, and guardians with supportive dialogue, empathetic coping tools and resources for navigating youth mental health through the COVID-19 pandemic. Take a look from the lens of DeKalb County youth, sharing their
thoughts and emotions, of the affects this pandemic is having on their mental health.

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Metro Atlanta College Access Conference
Tuesday, October 6 | 6:00-9:00pm

The Metro Atlanta College Access Conference connects incredible public high school students, representative of Greater Atlanta, with supportive post-secondary options. During the workshops, students and parents learn the ins and outs of college admissions and financial aid before visiting the virtual college fair to explore specific colleges and chat with admission representatives.

Students and families will:
  1. Uncover new college options through a robust search tool
  2. Experience virtual campus tours 
  3. Watch videos and download materials helpful for in decision process
  4. Schedule meetings and interviews with admissions representatives 

The Conference will take place virtually. For more information, please visit https://collegeaim.swoogo.com/MACAC2020 to get details on registration and a schedule of virtual sessions.
STAY ENGAGED & INFORMED
DEKALB COUNTY GOVERNMENT OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED ON MON., SEPTEMBER 7TH
IN OBSERVANCE OF LABOR DAY
Please click here for the holiday sanitation schedule.
2020 Presidential Election
Click here to secure your absentee ballot.
Help Your Community By Completing the 2020 Census
To complete the 2020 Census online, go to My2020Census.gov or call 844-330-2020.
 
For more information about DeKalb County's 2020 Census efforts visit www.dekalbcounts2020.org or email 2020Census@dekalbcountyga.gov
COVID-19 Updates
Stay up to date on news from DeKalb County and COVID-19 by clicking here.