Helping Families During Times of Crisis
When the shelter-in-place order went into effect last March, our beloved Kidango staff found themselves having to adapt quickly to an environment that presented new challenges and needs for the children and families we serve. How could we help meet the extraordinary needs of our Kidango families, many who lost their jobs and were at risk of losing the roof over the heads and the food on their tables, while still providing Kidango services critical for children’s healthy development in the midst of self-isolation?
Soon after the shelter-in-place mandate went into effect, our team of early intervention specialists — who serve the families of infants and toddlers with special needs and developmental delays — reached out to families to determine their most pressing needs and how Kidango could help them during this challenging time. Our early intervention team found themselves comforting distraught and anxious families, while dealing with their own challenges related to the pandemic.
“ When hearing about how these families we personally work with weekly were losing their jobs, struggling to locate basic necessities, worrying about paying bills, let alone providing food for their children, we knew we needed to assist, ” – Ryann Palau, Kidango’s Assistant Director of Early Intervention Services (EIS)
Through these personal interactions, our EIS team found that out of the 200 families served by our EIS team, 53 families needed additional support and 29 families had dire needs including lack of food and other essential items due to economic hardships related to COVID-19.
Sreedevi (Sree) Kamath, a development specialist who has been with Kidango for six years, was determined to be a foundational support for each family she served. Each week, she coached parents, offering a listening ear as they shared their struggles, and was often the family’s only respite during the week.
“ COVID came without any warning. The families we work with, they lost their jobs. These are families and children we know closely through our interactions with them every week. To see them struggle for the basic essentials of life, it was terrible. ”
– Sreedevi Kamath, Kidango’s Developmental Specialist
Knowing that 29 families were in desperate need for food and necessities, Sree reached out to Ryann to see if she could initiate a fundraiser to benefit EIS families struggling due to the pandemic. Having never fundraised before, Ryann encouraged Sree to proceed and together they set a goal of raising $300 to help our EIS families most in need.
That Friday, Sree set up a PayPal account and spent all night and weekend calling her immediate friends, family, and network to ask them for their support. “We started off on Friday evening and all weekend I was on calls with my friends. That night, within two to three hours, we had $300 and by morning we had $800. By Monday we had raised $1,500. Every weekend I worked on getting more and more people.” said Sree. “We thought we couldn’t support 29 families so we aimed to provide additional assistance for 15 families in need. However, by week two, we were able to give essential supplies to all 53 families!”
People were captivated by Sree’s passion and were so inspired that they began recruiting their networks to further her efforts. Sree’s network began referring her to other community members and soon she had food and other donated essential items worth over $2,500, a local resident sewing over 80 masks for Kidango staff, a Fremont Girl Scout Troop holding a mini-fundraiser, church donations, gift cards for local grocery stores, and even a $10,000 grant from Albertsons Companies Foundation to purchase food and other essential items for our EIS families in need.
This extra effort made a huge difference for our families. A mother in the EIS program shared,
“ Today a care package arrived. Much needed wipes and diapers. There were some dinner things, enough to stretch a few dinners out of. There were snacks. There was paper for finger painting. This box meant so much to us. We have been scrambling to find more than the tiny expensive pack of diapers at the grocery store. Standing in line for hours is not an option for my family because if Lou were to catch COVID, he mostly likely would not make it through. I have not been able to work since March, because of the quarantine. Money is beyond tight. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to Kidango for the care package for Luis. But just maybe you can see it in Luis’ smile. Thank you! ” – Kidango Parent
Beyond Shelter in Place
Sree has shown compassion and deepened her trust with our EIS families – truly embodying what Kidango represents and practices. Beyond EIS, Sree has opened the door with these community connections to strengthen our partnerships and to raise awareness and funds to support the critical needs of the children and families we serve. Due to her new connection with Albertsons Companies Foundation, Kidango was invited to apply for a $50,000 grant (a grant we subsequently received in July) to provide healthy meals for thousands of Kidango children during the summer.
Sree’s Supervisor, Ryann, comments that “Sree wholeheartedly took on the task of supporting these families’ basic needs for food and other essential items through fundraising; reaching out to connections in her immediate circle, as well as venturing into new relationships with other community partners that we hope will last long past Covid-19.”
Not only has Sree accomplished all these amazing feats during a pandemic, she is humble and is appreciative of Ryann – who she says she couldn’t have done the fundraiser without her support. Sree’s main takeaway? The unbelievable empathy and the willingness to help that she’s seen in her network, community members, and complete strangers.
We are deeply grateful and appreciative of Sree’s inspiring work. Thank you, Sree!
Congratulations Sreedevi on your efforts and achievement in this time of pandemic .May the almighty bless your family.
Hi Tony, thank you so much. Your support means a lot to me. Thank you for helping out by sending the Paypal link to all your friends in the US.
What an achievement! Starting from zero for this project/activity, coming to cater to a large number of desperate, needy and lost-hope persons is a great achievement. I feel humbled, looking to the mammoth efforts which have made these achievements possible.
I place on record my deep appreciation for such a selfless venture and wish the organisation continue its present activities with much more vigour.
Thank you so much for supporting us by connecting me to all your friends.
Great job Devakka. You’re so thoughtful. I’m so proud that you were there when people needed you the most.
Proud of Sreedevi, who rose to the occasion and helped those families…Being a parent of such a child, I know the tension and pain the parents feel.Our world needs such good souls …Proud of her….
Hi Sandhya, thank you for your kind words.
Amazing work Sreedevi! We are all so grateful!
Thank you Jenn! Thank you for your support and encouragement always.
You make me so proud Sree! Knowing you and being able to learn from you is a huge blessing. Keep it up amiga!
Kassy, Thank you so much for being a part and helping out with the project. Ryann and I couldn’t have done without you and Natalia. You made it fun and are an amazing support. I am lucky to have a friend and colleague like you!!! 🙂
Sreedevi, hats off to your commitment to make a difference in these challenging times . Thanks for being our inspiration !
Hello George, thank you for your kind words.
Devi’s kindness and thoughtfulness shines through. Kudos. Glad to know you and be inspired
Hi Sanjyot! Thank you for your kind words.
Sreedevi is always like this only! 😀 Helpful and connecting people for a good cause. She connected with her community, friends and family for a good cause and give them a workable method to do good for the community. All the best.
Hello Ajit! Thank you for your wishes. And thank you for helping me out by connecting me to your friends.
Just reading about the selfless work of Sreedevi and her team brought a lump to my throat. One small step spread so much empathy and kindness towards others. Keep that light of goodness ever bright.
Thank you for your kind words Vandana. Appreciate it
I very much appreciate and zeal of Sreedevi!!! Whenever she received huge monetary help from individuals or organizations, she used to share with me her joy and achievement. I had suggested to her some sources to seek donations.
Uncle, I couldn’t have honestly done this without your amazing support. You connected me to a whole community of people especially senior citizens who went out of their way to help me, and you encouraged me to reach out to Grewal Foundation!! Thank you so much.
I remember the first time Sri reached out for this initiative! She was determined to not let these families be deprived of their basic needs. Her empathy and passion to help those most in need is the driving force in the success of her cause. Wishing Sridevi continued success and a big Thanks for bringing it all together!!
Thank you Tina!!! All credit to you for connecting me to the amazing group of people on Telegram. They trusted me because they trusted you!!!!
Awesome SD! …Way to go gal! … Proud of you! … Really cool, inspirational, noble … Keep up the good work … best wishes and God Bless!
Thank you so much Ashok. 🙂
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
Sreedevi, extremely delighted to see that this gift of genorisity from you and your network has positively impacted several lives. Kudos to Kidango!.Nice writeup as well
That is a lovely quote. Reminded me of my granny saying that blessed are those who are of help to others. Thank you so much for taking the time out to write here.
Wow Sreedevi, really a wonderful job that you have done during these tough and difficult times. Sure you have the blessings of each and every family that you had helped. And I am sure there are many more to follow. I wish you all the very best. God bless you.
Thank you George.
Hearty congratulations on your recognition Sreedevi!! Commitment, confidence and accomplishment are the things that l’ve always assumed to be synonymous with your character from the time I have known you. It was a question of time your company realized that they had a gem of a person working for them. For your perseverance and self-discipline, you are such good model for all the people around you.
What a noble deed.. much needy gesture during this tough time .Congratulations Sreedevi.