Coalitions in Action – Deerfield Valley Community Partnership Switches Gears for COVID-19 Community Service
“Deerfield Valley is a small rural resort community in Southern Vermont,” said Coalition Coordinator, and CADCA Coalition Advisory Committee member, Cindy Hayford. “Our coalition, the Deerfield Valley Community Partnership, is in its 25th year. We are 10 years out of the DFC, which we had from 2000-2010.”
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have moved all meetings to virtual platforms,” said Hayford. “Along with continuing with many of our current strategies (as we are able), we have focused on community outreach to offer support around COVID-19. We are also participating in community service activities such as making masks to distribute to the community, fundraising for our local food pantry and sharing information on resources to our community coalition members and partners. We are also implementing a ‘Hello Campaign’ to let folks know we are thinking of them and reminding them that we are all still connected, and gathering information on healthy, fun family activities to share.”
“We have seen a drop in engagement due to school closings and all of our in-person trainings and family/youth events being cancelled, but we have gained new partners,” said Hayford. “We have begun a new collaboration with the local Voices of Hope Group, Rotary Club and library to create a resource guide to distribute through Meals on Wheels and School Meal Deliveries. We’re also partnering with the Wings Afterschool program to send personal letters to our seniors who are missing the end of their senior year and graduation.”
“To keep our community engaged in our work, we are using virtual meetings, emails, information sent home through school contacts and social media (Facebook for the adults, SnapChat for the youth), and offering virtual training (i.e., vaping cessation) ,” said Hayford. “We are sending yoyos home to youth with our logo and the message ‘life is full of ups and downs. The trick is to enjoy the ups and have courage during the downs.’”
“In addition, we sent a mailed newsletter out to 2500 homes with a reminder of who we are and what we do,” said Hayford. “The cover had photos of all of our youth members for recognition and to highlight the prevention work they have done, so they know we are thinking of them and to remind them that they are valued.”
“We have seen an increase in local partnerships and an increase in statewide coalition connections to support each other through bi-weekly Zoom calls to share ideas,” said Hayford. “Staff have taken this opportunity to participate in multiple learning opportunities like CADCA’s Webinar Wednesdays, state sponsored webinars, etc. In addition, due to in person and family events being cancelled, we have been able to amend grant funds to allow for the hiring of a social media consultant to assist with increasing our use of multiple social media platforms and adding new software and technology.”
“Adding additional community work around COVID-19 (masks, food pantry, Hello Campaign) has kept us engaged and allowed us to offer support that is parallel to our substance misuse prevention work,” said Hayford.