For five years, Erin passed a bench promoting ProKids. For five years, she thought about being a volunteer. She began her in-person training just before the pandemic changed everything, and finished her training online, taking on her first case in June.
“I only know how to do this during COVID-19,” she says. “I have to keep a positive attitude and be creative. That’s what I thrive on.”
Erin’s case involves a little girl, “Nadia.” Her older siblings had already been removed from the home before Nadia was born because of their mother’s history of drug abuse, her untreated mental health issues and a history of relationships with abusive partners.
Nadia’s father is in prison now, but Nadia had seen how he abused her mother before she was removed from the home.
Despite the trauma she had experienced, Nadia thrived when she was moved into her grandmother’s home. Within six months, her grandmother had full custody and Nadia was moving forward, nurtured and supported.
So Erin took on a second case, advocating for a toddler named “Malcolm.” Malcolm is living with his grandmother in a bustling home where she is caring for two other children, her mother – who is battling cancer – and sometimes for her sister, who has also been ill.
In between, to keep it all together, the grandmother works fulltime. So Erin has put her creativity to work, joining the family for socially distant visits as they go grocery shopping, for example, and visiting Malcolm on the playground at his day care center.
“These are formative years for Malcolm and he needs services like speech therapy,” Erin says. “But with everything going on, it’s hard for the grandmother to follow up on things like that.”
To ease her load, Erin began picking up the family’s food distribution at the local library and dropping it off on their front porch. “It not only helps the grandmother, but it’s a way to stay connected on a regular basis and to know how they are doing,” Erin says. “We have to use all the tools we have at this complicated time.”