With their usual partnerships disrupted by COVID-19, members of the REACH program have found a new way to learn and help the community at the same time by opening a personal hygiene closet.
REACH (“Reaching Educational and Career Heights”) is a program for students with developmental disabilities ages 18-21 that helps them get into the workforce and become independent and productive citizens. During a normal year, members of the program go to job sites each day, but that is not possible due to pandemic restrictions. They have adapted and found new ways to learn, including creating simulated job sites in the classroom and partnering with non-profits to prepare meal bags and other supplies for families in need. That work led to the creation of a personal hygiene closet.
“With things changing due to COVID-19, the needs of our program and community are changing, as well. The REACH program desired to create a new work site with which we would help the community at the same time,” said REACH teacher Ivory Cloud. “The REACH hygiene closest is fully-stocked at this time, and we are excited to support the community. We believe that this is an innovative idea to create a long-lasting work-site/work experience for the REACH program students and support our community families at the same time.”
The Gateway Center shelter in Atlanta made a donation of new hygiene products to get the closet started, along with donations from school system staff and the community. REACH students, with teachers Cloud, Nancy Akin, and Tina Bavaro, have the closet ready to help.
“REACH students will sort, document items, prepare supply bags, and organize the items for the personal hygiene closet. These skills will teach them how to take inventory and interact with their co-workers while meeting a deadline at the office,” said Cloud. “These skills can all be transferred into their careers once they complete the REACH program and during their time in the program.”
Located in a classroom at the LaFayette Educational Center, the closet will be available to members of the community in need by appointment. Families can arrange a time to pick up prepared items by contacting Ivory Cloud at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nancy Akin at email@example.com.