As the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis continues to affect the community, Jackson is rising to the challenge and stepping up to help those in need. This important work of responding to basic needs is taking place through the leadership of the Jackson COVID-19 Action Network, also known as JCAN.
JCAN, which functions as part of Jackson County’s emergency response, consists of representatives frommore than two dozen local government agencies, organizations, businesses, non-profits, resident-lead community groups, and volunteers. This collaborative group is focused on ensuring all Jackson County residents have access to food, shelter, information, and other basic needs.
Since its formation in mid-March, JCAN has been stepping into action to provide these basic needs. JCAN’s efforts are supported by the COVID-19 Response Fund created by the United Way of Jackson County and the Jackson Community Foundation. As of April 16, the fund has raised $256,679. So far, $65,666 of that total has been allocated to purchase and distribute supplies to residents in need, along with supporting area non-profits. A total of 48,559 items have been distributed. These donations have come from local businesses, organizations, and residents.
Ken Toll, President and CEO of the United Way of Jackson County, says his organization is encouraged by the quick response and how much money has been raised. However, they know that number will have to grow to meet the community’s increasing demands. “This is one of those slow-rolling crises where we’re learning more about needs everyday. Every time a new issue or need comes up, we realize just how deep and pro- found this crisis is really impacting us,” Toll said.
An active member of the JCAN network is the community group Partial to Girls. The group, lead by Jackson resident Salena Taylor, is made up of local women who want to make a difference in the community. Right now, the women are working to deliver supplies to the community during the COVID-19 crisis. They’re currently operating out of the City of Jackson’s Boos Community Center and collaborating with City staff. Through support from the response fund and community donations, Partial to Girls has made more than 1,000 deliveries over the past month, providing basic needs such as diapers, baby formula and personal care products.
Taylor says they get information about who needs help from the 211 helpline and their Facebook page. Once people in need have been identified, the Partial to Girls volunteers spring into action and make deliveries, leaving the supplies at front doors so there is no contact. Taylor says they’ve been helping families who don’t have the money available to buy these supplies because of loss of work or because the items are no longer available in stores. She says there’s a mix of emotions right now for the families they’re helping. “Fear because we don’t know where the virus is going to take us and when it will end, and gratefulness because of all the organizations that have formed JCAN and are helping the community,” Taylor said.
Donations to the COVID-19 response fund are being accepted through the United Way’s website. Visit uwjackson.org and go to the “Donate” section to contribute. Those who need assistance with basic needs or who would like to volunteer should call 211.
While JCAN members know the crisis isn’t going away anytime soon, they’re strengthened to see such a strong community response. “We are able to serve the masses when we put our resources together, and that’s why we’re proud to be a part of the work that’s happening through JCAN,” Taylor said.
More information about the JCAN effort can be found by visiting cityofjackson.org/coronavirus.