April 10 Update From NH

Neighborhood House COVID-19 Period Activities Update

Dear Neighborhood House of Milwaukee Families and Friends,

I am writing to provide you with another weekly update on the impact of the COVID-19 virus on Neighborhood House (NH).  As you know, for the foreseeable future, all our formal program operations at Neighborhood House itself, at our International Learning Program, at Albert Story Elementary School, and at our Nature Center remain suspended. That said, we are working hard on a variety of fronts behind the scenes.

Neighborhood House’s Fiscal Moves:

· In a major move, on April 6th, NH submitted a Payroll Protection Plan SBA loan for about $350K to support two months of NH payroll and a series of fixed agency costs (e.g. utilities, rent, water/sewer costs).  That SBA program was a key element of the COVID-19 CARES Act passed by Congress.  We are hopeful of prompt loan approval.  If the loan is made and the NH employees are hired back after the COVID-19 closure, the loan can revert to a grant to the agency.

· In the meanwhile, as I told you in my prior updates, we temporarily laid off all NH staff effective March 22nd but for one part-time finance office staffer.  Until the SBA funds are approved and received, most NH staff have already filed for unemployment compensation and if eligible, are receiving 40% of prior compensation up to a $370/week maximum.  As NH is self-funded for unemployment compensation (UC), those UC dollars will come from NH itself in our payment of subsequent UC bills from the State.

· In addition, according to the CARES Act, NH employees are also eligible for $600/week addition to their UC checks.  Those funds will come from the Federal government, not from NH accounts.

· NH continues to prepare and submit grant reports as required while also seeking new or renewed support NH continues to work with potential funders of our 2020 75th Anniversary Loop Drive and Lobby Project, including IMPACT 100 (our project advance to a finalist stage last week), a joint Fund for Lake Michigan/Sustain our Great Lakes application and MMSD.  We’ve recently secured a $5K grant from Sweet Water and a prior $15K planning grant from MMSD.

Neighborhood House’s Educational Program Updates:

· Working with partners at Friedens Community Ministries, about 20 our NH Early Head Start families, as well as immediate NH neighbors distributed about 40 bags of groceries on April 4th.  A second grocery distribution for NH families, again supported by our friends at Friedens, is planned for April 10th and 13th.  To arrange a pickup, email jmartinka@nh-milw.org or call Jeff at 414-477-1156.

· Several of our International Learning Program (ILP) of our ILP instructors are working remotely with higher-language skilled ILP students to provide them with ongoing homework and feedback. 

· As we plan for 100% of our teachers and program team members to return to Neighborhood House, two of our NH preschool teachers received a portion of their sign-on bonuses last week

  • NH Community Services managers are laying the groundwork for restart programs, including:
    • Planning for Health Initiatives, environmental education (EE), family and teen summer programs
    • Health Initiatives is working on PREP and teen pregnancy prevention reports and planning for summer and the next grant cycle, including development of parent engagement social media. 
    • Cynthia Jasper is planning home-time mindfulness sessions for parents to engage with children
    • EE staff are developing home-time social media activities for that include literacy and EE. 

· NH secured volunteers for a complete re-sanitization of all NH program areas once a re-open date is planned

· We continue to offer our families in-home educational and activities suggestions on the NH social media platforms (see the P.S. section at the bottom for new examples and repeats of key COVID sites, please!)

NH and Nature Center Facilities:

· NH Land Steward Sarah Long has continued limited staff (not volunteers at this time) work at the NH Nature Center in the last three weeks.  That work includes:

o   Working on spring invasive species control in key areas of our preserve

o   Burning brush piles gathered by staff and volunteers last year

o   Germinating the collected wild flower and prairie plant seeds collected by volunteers last fall

o   Seeking Wisconsin DNR grant support for this work with an April 7th grant application

Sarah Long is also planning for hoped-for late spring and summer Nature Center activities, including our new Maple Sugar Shack, trail bridge, and potential spring pond projects.  Those projects will be fortified by NH volunteers (we hope!!)

NH Food Pantry Pilot Project:

Given the closure of the nearby Central City Churches food pantry in February, NH was approached to create replacement NH Food Pantry. Significant progress has been made in the last two weeks, including:

· After securing $42,000 in funding commitments to-date in new start-up funding in the last three weeks, grant requests for another $40,000 in first year support were submitted to two area foundations

· The large obsolete stove/ovens and dishwashers in NH Family Lounge kitchen were disconnected and removed last week to make room for a new food pantry refrigerators and freezer

· Key NH managers met with staff and test-volunteered at partner agency food pantries, including at Silver Spring Neighborhood House and Milwaukee Christian Center, both this week

· NH is continuing to work with Hunger Task Force and other partners on new equipment and ongoing food donations

NH Event Reminders:

· The 2020 MANDI Awards, with NH as a finalist, were postponed from April 2nd to a likely late summer date

· Our Annual NH Golf Open has already been moved from June 2nd to August 31st

· Our 75th NH Anniversary Gala is still planned for November 12th at Discovery World

The COVID-19 pandemic is a continuously-evolving situation. We are monitoring news and will provide updates with reports like these and on our social media sites. We will continue to do that:

NH Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/neighborhoodhouseofmilwaukee/)

and NH website (http://www.nh-milw.org)

We remain so very sorry that we were forced to suspend all our ongoing programs and special events on March 13th. We know it has posed very serious consequences for the families who depended on us and on the NH staff team, as well.  Our goal remains to reopen NH as soon as we can do so safely.

Please be safe, be cautious, and conserve your family’s resources.

Best regards til next week,

Jeff Martinka

cell 414-477-1156 or jmartinka@nh-milw.org

P.S.  Here are links to ideas for home activities and community resources for homebound parents and caregivers (click on the links in blue below:

Ready Rosie Teaching Strategies Website

Free resources for families. This is the curriculum assessment NH uses in its preschool. There are simple activities families can do with infants to 5 year olds. 


Art for Kids Website

Offers art projects for families, with videos organized by ages


GoNoodle Activities

Offers physical fitness and music and movement activities for kids of all ages:

MKE with Kids Website

Offers easy science experiments using household items


Second Step In-Home Learning Programs for parents and caregivers with children of all ages:


Yoga Videos by Preschool Inspirations offers a broad variety of proven programs and approaches for preschoolers

The Best Kid Yoga Videos – Preschool Inspirations

City of Milwaukee Health Department – regularly updated Corona Virus/COVID 19 Info Site


Center for Disease Control COVID-19 Main Information Site – offers families daily-updated Corona Virus/COVID 19 info and resources


Hunger Task Force Food Pantry Map – offers constantly updated maps of area food pantries/food banks


Jeff Martinka Executive Director

Related Posts