Recently, I had the privilege of interacting with one of our young parents who has been living at the Days Inn overflow shelter for the past nine months. She is struggling to manage her mental health issues while getting to work, shuttling her two children to child care, and pursuing a medical assistant certification. With the help of the community, Playtime was able to provide some aid—we delivered diapers, snacks, learning toys, and more. Because she’d had little interaction with her shelter caseworker, we provided several emergency referrals and advocated for her to get the mini-fridge in her room fixed. Plus we gave her a ride-share gift card so she could get her infant and toddler to their doctor’s appointments.
She was so grateful for our ability to provide this concrete assistance to meet her immediate needs. “Playtime really gets the job done,” she said. “I wish there were more people like you [all] in this world.”
This young mom is working so hard to juggle it all. It’s an honor to have community support that allows us to give her a few less things to worry about so she can focus on giving her children a good summer despite her circumstances.
For Playtime families, poverty and isolation continue to limit their options for accessing safe outlets for summer fun. As our new Deputy Director spearheads plans to re-open Playtime, we are committed to doing all we can in the meantime to help families create positive, playful memories this summer.
Our regular shipment of Playtime to Go kits continues to be a big hit, according to feedback from parents and shelter partners. One shelter partner said: “The kits are extremely helpful! As are the connections to things like a steady supply of groceries. Combined, these things help people understand they are not alone and there is a broader network of people supporting them.”
“We have loved the support Playtime has been able to provide during this time,” said another shelter partner. “I think the virtual content is really great. The emergency resources and gift cards have been extremely helpful, particularly for our undocumented parents, who do not receive government assistance and many of whom work in hospitality/restaurants and are no longer able to work during this time.”
Recently, Playtime delivered emergency supplies to several parents who have been quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19, including a mother of a newborn at one of our partner domestic violence shelters.
This is why we must continue to innovate, to advocate, and meet concrete needs so families get the resources they need and more children can play despite the stress of homelessness, COVID-19, and ongoing racial injustice.
This month, we’re piloting live Zoom Playtime sessions to give volunteers, staff, and children the chance to connect and engage in activities together in real time. And we have partnered with several organizations to bring even more play activities to children this summer, including KiWiCo, which creates STEM packs for children to build their own toys; Nick’s Legos, which provides Lego-building games; and Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, which is connecting our families with art kits. We also plan to have virtual field trips with Urban Beets and the Smithsonian.
It’s summertime and the living is not so easy for families experiencing homelessness in our community. But with your ongoing support, we will ensure Playtime is always there for children, no matter what.