Junta organization supports new services through hybrid model during pandemic
Junta for Progressive Action is modifying services to meet the needs of the pandemic.
Brian Zhang, collaborating photographer
As the New Haven community continues to adjust to life during the pandemic, Junta for Progressive Action – a Latinx nonprofit that serves residents of color – has evolved its programming to better meet the needs of city dwellers. .
When the pandemic struck, the Junta temporarily suspended operations. But in recent months, the organization – which provides free legal services, youth programs, recreational venues and educational platforms – has undertaken its projects through a hybrid operating model. These new activities include partnering with local hospitals and pharmacies to serve as an in-person vaccination site that also distributes COVID-19 preventative supplies, such as masks and protective gear.
âLa Junta adapts its services according to the needs of the population,â said Cheila Serrano, director of social services at the Junta.
In the past, Junta would invite residents to the centre’s parking lot to get their flu shots outdoors, in addition to doing prospecting work throughout town to encourage community members to get them. They also organized school rewards events and community giveaways before the start of the school year.
Although currently limited to in-person events and vaccinations on Fridays, Junta’s social services outside of vaccinations are more important than ever, according to Serrano. She added that the pandemic had hit low-income families particularly hard, with many people finding themselves jobless, in complex legal situations and turning to government assistance. According to the Department of Numbers, New Haven’s unemployment rate peaked at 10.5 percent in July 2020, with more than 300 homeless people and over 110,000 residents receiving SNAP benefits.
“Tackle several crises at the same time[â¦]happens to many of our constituents, âsaid Executive Director Bruni Pizarro. “We’re kind of trying to serve the publicâ¦ in a way that’s a 360 model.”
Through presentations, donations to local supermarkets, counseling sessions and restorative education programs, Junta helps bridge the gap between families and government services. In response to the increase in evictions and the colder months of the pandemic, the organization has also created a fund itself, which residents can apply for help with paying rent and utility bills.
Pizarro explained that Junta’s motivation to become a vaccination site was due to the lack of awareness and accessibility to vaccines that existed both locally and nationally for low-income minority groups.
Since the start of the pandemic, the city has launched a number of immunization campaigns, including a series of student-athlete-led advertisements aimed at youth groups and communities of color and the health system’s involvement. Yale New Haven at national project âGet the vaccine to save livesâ. At a press conference outside City Hall on September 14, Mayor Justin Elicker announcement that 64.7% of Elm City residents were fully immunized.
Pizarro also credits Junta’s involvement in vaccine distribution to many community health organizations – the New Haven Health Department, Griffin Hospital, and the Yale Child Study Center. She added that the team is particularly proud of its pop-up clinic and August 30 community fair, which drew more than 400 attendees. Last month, 63 people were vaccinated through Junta-sponsored services and events. With the Delta variant growing in concern, the organization plans to continue its immunization services through the remainder of September and beyond.
Junta also attributes the success of her community events to the decades-long relationship she has established with residents. Serrano described the organization as a second home for its constituents and a place where low-income minorities of all immigration statuses can find confidence, which has been critical to its response to the pandemic.
Pizarro explained that part of their reason for adopting a hybrid model was to build a sense of trust that isn’t communicated so seamlessly across remote platforms.
“[There is] a lack of confidence in the medical modelâ¦ a fear that they will be expelled to the hospitalâ¦ and [other] myths, âPizarro said.
Not to mention the particular affinity groups Junta hopes to attract, such as the homeless and the undocumented, may not have easy access to the technology, she added.
As a result, Junta’s weekly events combine professional services and presentations with freebies, food, and even DJs to restore the socializing aspects of pre-COVID life. The recreational aspects are new strategies implemented by the organization to better connect with the public, according to Pizarro.
The increasingly diverse services and resources offered by Junta also came with opportunities for new and old collaborations with non-medical organizations, such as Dwight Hall, the National Dropout Prevention Center, local churches and the Preventive Health Program. -FOCUS on New Haven orientation.
Dwight Hall executive director Peter Crumlish said Yale interns have helped administer back-up systems and develop after-school support for local students. Additionally, last summer, FOCUS program participants worked on Junta’s diaper delivery service project by remotely coordinating contactless diaper distribution and setting up an outdoor tent for COVID vaccinations and childcare services. relief.
The next event, scheduled for Friday, September 24, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., will offer consulting services to answer questions or needs related to utilities and home energy.
Owen Tucker-Smith contributed reporting.