COVID-19 Announcement

Here at Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence (BBBSI), our top priority is always the health and well-being of our Littles, Bigs, Staff, Board Members and Supporters.

We are closely monitoring the spread and impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) within the communities we serve in Southeastern PA and Southern NJ. We must all join together in the effort to reduce the spread of the virus in our communities and protect those we serve.

To protect the safety of our BBBSI community, we have recently taken the following actions:

  • Postponed or canceled all BBBSI public events and match activities scheduled during the months of March, April, and May.
  • Enacted a temporary suspension period for all school-based mentoring programs, until April 30th.
  • Advised Bigs and Littles in our community-based mentoring programs to avoid in-person match outings, until April 30th, and instead communicate via text, phone calls, and emails.
  • Postponed the MENTOR Independence Region (MENTOR IR) 5th Anniversary Celebration, halted all new training opportunities until after May 1st, and moved MENTOR IR meetings to virtual meetings.
  • Closed our PA (Philadelphia, Norristown, Exton) and NJ (Cherry Hill) offices until further notice, and allowed BBBSI staff to work remotely.
  • Moved agency meetings with external partners to a virtual format.
  • Moved volunteer interviews and information sessions to a virtual format.

We will continue to provide general updates to our Bigs, Families, Partners and Supporters through the following communications channels:

  • Periodic agency email communications
  • Social media postings

Philadelphia Public Schools released a list of 30 meal pickup locations for families who depend on school-provided breakfast and lunch service while schools are closed.

To better enable you to speak about COVID-19 with the young people in your life, including your children and your Little, check out the following resources:

  • Child Mind Institute: “Kids worry more when they are kept in the dark,” this site provides concise information for adults to remember and help with talking to youth about Coronavirus.
  • BrainPop.com: Short 4 minute video for younger kids that can help explain the virus (it provides good facts to everyone else, too).
  • NPR: Good comic that can be shared online, but also printed as a zine which shares facts that are easy to understand.

To make hand washing and social distancing a little more bearable, consider these suggestions:

  • Discuss all of the various songs you can sing for 20 seconds while washing your hands. There are so many song choices, like this!
  • Try these fun at-home activities
  • Be kind to yourself and your loved ones. Household dynamics may shift, so remember, we are all navigating this together despite the distance between us

Below is a current list of our recommended sources for accurate and timely information on COVID-19 updates for both PA and NJ:

We want to ensure the continuity of our business operations and we want to do so thoughtfully. Federal, state, and local governments and public health departments continue to provide additional recommendations to curtail activity. The CDC is now recommending individuals and organizations cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 10 people or more, for the next 8 weeks. We will adhere to additional recommendations and safety precautions as they come.

Thank you for your continued support.

Helpful Resources

Due to the classification of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a world health crisis, and BBBS’ strong recommendation for Bigs and Littles to not meet in person, the Weekend Round Up has been modified to show appropriate resources for Matches and the families we serve.

Please see below for ways to stay in touch while not meeting in person, remote conversation starters, tips for talking with youth about Coronavirus, and county-specific resources.

If you would like to be taken directly to resources in your area, please click the following links:

Ways for Matches to Stay in Touch with Each Other:

Free App Games
Game Pigeon – For iPhone users and those with iMessage, Apple has the game application ‘Game Pigeon’ within an iMessage thread. “All you have to do to download is open an iMessage conversation and then click on the app store button (the blue one with an ‘A’ made out of ice cream sticks). Then, simply browse through until you find the game you want to play.”

Our favorites include ‘8 Ball’ and ‘Four in a Row.’ They’re prefect for Bigs and Littles.

Words with Friends – Keep in touch with your friends by playing Words with Friends Free, the #1 mobile game!

Eat a Meal Together
If your Match would usually be out grabbing a slice of pizza together, keep the normalcy going! Consider eating lunch or dinner together, remotely, and at the same time over FaceTime or Skype.

Live Text
At a loss for what to keep in touch and talk about over the phone or through text? Watch the same show or movie together simultaneously, and keep a text conversation going. Here’s a list of the best kids’ movies on Netflix that you can stream right now. [LINK]

Games while Talking on the Phone
2 Truths and a Lie – known by most, this game is the perfect icebreaker. While on the phone with each other, start by listing 3 things. 1 will be a lie about yourself, and the other 2 will be facts about yourself. The other player has to guess what the lie is. Swap and have everyone take a turn.

Name 10 – a classic conversation game in which one person declares a category such as Fruit and the other players must come up with 10 examples of that category. The person who came up with the category gets to determine whether the examples fit. Similar to the game Scattergories.

Discuss all of the various songs you can sing for 20 seconds while washing your hands. There are so many song choices, like this!

Coronavirus and Talking with Youth

Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus
Kids worry more when they’re kept in the dark. [LINK]

Brain Pop
Short 4 minute video for younger kids that can help explain the virus (it provides so good facts to everyone, too). [LINK]

General Coronavirus Resources:

Comcast offering free internet to help with Coronavirus impacts
[LINK]

The PA Department of Health has made a dedicated hotline: 877-888-6647
This is the PA Department of Health website, this page has a lot of helpful links and info graphics for how to keep yourself safe and what to do if you get sick.

Two NJ hotline numbers: 1-800-962-1253 or 1-800-222-1222.
Here is the NJ website for steps to take if you think you’re sick. The general NJ Health website is also a great resource.

Burlington

Burlington County website
Here’s the Burlington County website. It directs you to the above NJ numbers if you would like to make a phone call.

Coronavirus: What you need to know about getting tested in New Jersey
[LINK]

NJ Relief efforts
[LINK]

Camden

Camden County specific website
Here’s the Camden County specific website for what to do in this time. It directs you to the above NJ numbers if you would like to make a phone call

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently asked questions, Cherry Hill
[LINK]

Coronavirus: What you need to know about getting tested in New Jersey
[LINK]

NJ Relief efforts
[LINK]

Chester

Chester County Health Department Flyer
[PDF]

Philadelphia Hotline 1-800-722-7112 (they are helping to cover Chester)
Here is the ChesCo Health Department website.

Chester County Food Bank
We are open and keeping health & safety as our top priority. https://chestercountyfoodbank.org/

Delaware

Delaware County PA, Coronavirus Updates
[LINK]

Call 1-877-PA-HEALTH if you are having symptoms

Gloucester

Gloucester County Division of Health Services
[LINK]

Coronavirus: What you need to know about getting tested in New Jersey
[LINK]

NJ Relief efforts
[LINK]

Montgomery

Montgomery County Launches New Coronavirus Website
Keep up to date with the most recent data, maps, and resources from Montgomery County and health officials on coronavirus. [LINK]

Hotline specific for MontCo: 610-631-3000

Philadelphia

Find Free Meals for Students while Schools are Closed
All schools within the School District of Philadelphia will be closed, Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, 2020. The District is coordinating with the City’s Office of Children and Families, Parks & Recreation, and many other departments and nonprofit partners to provide meal service and activities in safe spaces throughout the city. [LINK]

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health
Has opened a 24/7 coronavirus helpline staffed by medical professionals: 1-800-722-7112. This is the general website for Philly regarding the virus, and this one goes into more detail and has more links and info.