Opportunity Partners Helps People with Disabilities Despite COVID-19 Challenges
The novel coronavirus has impacted nearly every aspect of society, and many social service agencies have been hit especially hard.
Opportunity Partners, which has locations across the Twin Cities, works alongside people with disabilities to provide job training, employment and residential support for people to live more independently, succeed on the job and lead lives filled with purpose and meaning.
COVID-19 Outbreak Has Significant Impact on Opportunity Partners.
“We’ve had to furlough about 200 employees over the last few weeks,” said Armando Camacho, president and CEO of Opportunity Partners. “So that is devastating. They are dedicated staff that are really here for our mission to advance the quality of life for people with disabilities.”
It’s not just the employees who’ve had their lives upended. The people with disabilities who receive services from Opportunity Partners have had to adapt to a new normal.
“We have about 750 people that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Camacho said. “Those are individuals that can no longer come to one of our five production employment sites, enrichment sites, in the west metro.”
Camacho says there are several hundred people who rely on their services every day for help with medication, grocery shopping and medical appointments, among other things.
“They’re stuck at home and our staff are now having to go into those homes 24/7 to cover shifts to support them throughout the day,” Camacho said. “And that’s causing a lot of pressure because we’ve had an employment challenge on hiring people because of the economy.”
Furloughed staff members have covered some of those shifts, but the organization still has other needs in their apartment programs and group homes.
“We found out we still have 21 shifts open this week that we can’t cover,” Camacho said. “But we’re also still hiring for full-time positions and part-time positions for our group homes. So if anybody’s interested in a great job, a great, career go to opportunities.org to help us out.”
Ways You Can help
If working for Opportunity Partners isn’t a feasible option, people can help by donating personal protective equipment such as masks. Camacho says their goal is to procure 1,000 masks. At the moment, they have 500.
Another way people can help is by making monetary donations. Opportunity Partners had initially planned to hold a big fundraising gala May 2 with a goal of raising $400,000. However, they had to cancel that gala due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Now, they’re asking people to help through an online donation campaign so they can cover increased staffing costs, and purchase things like books, puzzles and movies for the population they serve.
“People with disabilities are the most vulnerable in our society,” Camacho said. “So a very vulnerable population that has a lot to give. We learn a lot more from people with disabilities than they learn from us. We cannot forget about them during these challenging times.”