Kelly White is community volunteer. She is a member of Women’s Fund Sage Society and the Women’s Fund Engagement Committee.

It has been nearly a month. Shutdown, quarantine, e-learning, slow the spread had all become part of our daily lexicon. New ways of operating have emerged. Zoom meetings and other digital meeting platforms are now the norm and many of us had to learn quickly, technology fast becoming a lifeline.

Under these circumstances, OPTIONS Alumnae and Sage Society members were invited to join via Zoom on April 14 to hear how Women’s Fund had responded to the novel Coronavirus that had upended life for all of us, but most particularly has impacted those who were already struggling. We were joined by the executive directors of La Plaza, Prevail, and Project Home Indy to hear how each organization was responding to the new pressures of the pandemic and how each had been bolstered by the Women’s Fund Emergency Grants which had awarded nearly $20,000 combined to these organizations in recognition of their immediate needs during these unprecedented times. In total, Women’s Fund granted $106,390 emergency grants to 14 organizations that support organizations serving women and girls affected by the impact of COVID-19.

Miriam Acevedo Davis of La Plaza discussed the stressors of the clients they serve, many of whom are undocumented and therefore prohibited from receiving support through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. La Plaza advocates for Latino students and families by connecting clients with health and social services. Many of their clients have lost jobs and face economic uncertainty. Five thousand dollars was allotted to La Plaza to create 100 survival packages for the women they serve. Ms. Acevedo Davis introduced some of us to another new word to add to our growing pandemic vocabulary – Moral Fatigue, a feeling many are experiencing as we weigh previously uncontested decisions like venturing out to a grocery store for food or merely going to work at newly dubbed “essential businesses” against the potentially grave consequences these actions could have on our health and the health of our loved ones. The exhaustion La Plaza clients are experiencing is intense as they are among the most impacted by job loss and have limited access to support services.

One of the most unsettling realities of the stay-at-home order is that for some people, home is not a safe place. Susan Ferguson of Prevail shared with us that they have seen an increase in domestic violence since the shutdown began. Prevail employees have been relegated to continuing services from home as they work to stay in contact with the people they serve, 75% of whom are women and girls. Previously, a key component of their services included facilitating support groups in which clients could connect in-person and share experiences and provide support for one another. Prevail is evaluating ways they can continue support group activity via digital platforms while maintaining their required strict confidentiality rules. Women’s Fund awarded Prevail $3,715 to support these efforts, as well as to help offset unanticipated costs associated with employees who now are being asked to work from home.

Hope Hampton of Project Home Indy, which provides residential support service for girls between the ages of 15 and 19 who are either pregnant or who have a child under three years of age, receives most of its funding through the Department of Child Services (DCS). The downtown residence can house up to 10 girls and their children.  Afterwards, alumnae are encouraged to stay in contact with the home as each girl transitions toward independent living. Ms. Hampton reminded us that these girls often come from very traumatic experiences and many are ill-equipped to handle ordinary daily pressures, let alone the additional pressures they are experiencing adjusting to a heightened need for diligent self-care and care for their child amid this pandemic. Some alumnae are essentially homeless or living out of their cars and often revert to previously risky behavior. Some of the girls, like other teenagers, have had difficulty observing the stay-at-home order, putting all the residents at-risk. As financial and staff support has been strained, Women’s Fund awarded Project Home Indy $10,000 for operational support. Some of these funds have gone toward basic supplies of diapers, sanitation wipes, and cleaning supplies.

For those of us who were able to join the call, we were rewarded in hearing how these courageous directors and their staff have quickly adjusted to the urgent needs of their clients and those of their staff to remain safe as they continue their work. One of the common themes with of all the participants on the call was recognizing the emotional support each of us requires in varying degrees. One member acknowledged her growing awareness of maintaining social contact, another commented on the need for routine, many are embracing opportunities to be outdoors to take in the springtime weather and sunlight to keep up our spirits. To that end, we all acknowledged the Women’s Funds’ previous support for the Campaign to Change Direction, which supports efforts to change the culture about mental health, mental illness, and wellness. This crisis is bringing into sharp focus the reliance we all have on one another to provide support of spirit and body. Although we were meeting virtually through a digital platform, we were all connecting and reminded of our most real needs, love and support now more than ever.

To learn more about these three organizations, please visit:

La Plaza:
Project Home Indy: