The Family Service Association (F.S.A.), a Moreno Valley non-profit, received a $120,000 grant to address COVID-19 disparities in San Bernardino County from the Oakland-based Public Health Institute.
They will use the money to roll out an outreach plan in early March to target vulnerable groups like seniors, essential workers, people living in poverty, communities of color and immigrants around behavioral changes to prevent disease spread and encourage vaccine adoption.
Shannon Gonzales, the F.S.A.'s COO, says their staff has become a familiar face to people who have come to rely on their services during the pandemic. The organization has helped the county and cities expand a number of programs including meal services for seniors and childcare for essential workers.
“So we are really in-tune with what their needs are and so we are able to release information that we know can be more likely to be understood by the community,” said Gonzalez.
With 67 years of working in the community, Gonzales says they have built trusted relationships with marginalized groups who often struggle with a mistrust in government. While county officials are working to address pandemic disparities, there is a growing call to use community partners as part of the solution.
One area of focus will be the technological barriers many seniors face when trying to access vaccine information that mostly exists online. The team will use some in-person work, flyers and a staff of case managers to walk people through their questions.
Gonzales says they are also seeking to expand their reach through partnerships with organizations that serve the cities of Bloomington, Chino, Chino Hills, Colton, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Joshua Tree, Loma Linda, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino, Twentynine Palms, Upland, Yucaipa, and Yucca Valley. Interested organizations should email the Family Service Asoociation at firstname.lastname@example.org.