Nearly 3 years after COVID-19 first sent families into crisis, Natasha, a fourth grader at Eccleston Elementary, A Community Partnership School and her family were still navigating the impact left behind by the pandemic. The family developed a close relationship with the Community Partnership School team throughout the years and frequently received supplemental nutritional and wellness support.

It wasn’t until Natasha began consistently missing school each week that our team realized the family was catapulted back into crisis. When she did return to school, her mother shared they no longer had access to safe, stable housing due to their electricity being disconnected for several weeks. The family was moving from one place to another constantly, staying at their residence during the day and finding shelter with friends and family at night. They didn’t have many clothes, or access to a washer and dryer, and Natasha was forced to wear the same clothes to school, even as they grew dirtier.

As the severity of their situation unfolded, our team worked quickly to meet their immediate needs by providing travel hygiene kits and clean clothing to prevent the student from missing additional days of learning. Next, the team worked closely with the school guidance counselor, contacting Orlando Utilities Company (OUC) where they learned the family acquired a $5,000 utility bill over the course of 2 years, due to a leak within the home and COVID moratoriums in place originally meant to protect the family.

Because Eccleston Elementary is a Community Partnership School, Natasha and her family have a variety of resources and services — and a list of dedicated core and community partners — ready to wrap arms around the family to provide additional support. With the help of our committed stakeholders, including The City of Orlando and District 6 Commissioner, Bakari Burns, funds were raised to restore power to the family’s home. Natasha was able to return to school and finish her fourth grade year successfully! Her family continues to work closely with our Community Partnership School team and because of the collaboration and partnership fueled by the Community Partnership Schools™ model, Natasha and her family continue to find caring support as they tackle each barrier that stands in the way of their future success.

To learn more about Eccleston Elementary, A Community Partnership School and how you can join us  to build bridges to success for students, contact Kea Cherfrere, Community Partnership School Director today.