Collaboration Creates a Silver Lining

Silver lining (noun): a sign of hope in an otherwise negative situation.

It’s hard to imagine much of a silver lining in the middle of a global pandemic that has dramatically impacted our lives. But there is one. In Santa Barbara, we’ve seen new and expanding partnerships of public, private and faith-based organizations rising to address the growing needs in our community – particularly among our most vulnerable populations. And the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara is helping support many of these organizations.

Service and Support in One Location

For instance, Mobile Neighborhood Navigation Centers is a pilot program designed to provide holistic support for people experiencing homelessness by bringing together a number of organizations to deliver outreach, care and referrals in one place. SB ACT, along with Doctors Without Walls/Santa Barbara Street Medicine (current year grantee), is coordinating the efforts of many local agencies.

The first Navigation Center was piloted in Alameda Park in October and brought together DWW/SBSM, the Community Food Collaborative, Adam’s Angel’s, and C.A.R.E.4Paws. Showers of Blessing (current year grantee) joined at nearby Unity Church. Meeting every Thursday since then, the collaborative is working with other local agencies to serve disenfranchised people, and plan to expand to more locations. The goal? Help 50 people exit homelessness in 2021 and more in the years after that.

A Partnership within a Collaboration

Interestingly, the CFC is a partnership within a collaboration, also organized by SB ACT. The CFC works to address hunger among vulnerable and unsheltered populations in Santa Barbara in response to COVID-19. It supports small food enterprises and restaurant workers that are part of the critical underpinning of our local food system. The collaborative provides a warm meal, plus non-perishable food so clients have access to nutrition throughout the week and weekend. Unemployed chefs and restaurant workers are hired to help buy, prepare, and distribute food.

Behind the Scenes Help

Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County, (former Women’s Fund grantee), has assumed vital roles in ensuring that the county’s most vulnerable residents receive the assistance they need during the pandemic.

Earlier this year, FSA initiated a collaborative of 10 other nonprofits, supported by private funding, to assist isolated, low-income seniors. The Senior Outreach & Assistance Program has provided food, medications, and other essentials to more than 1,200 seniors. Although funding ran out at the end of September, many of the partner organizations are continuing with their own funds, and FSA is fundraising for others.

The public health and economic crises created by the global COVID-19 pandemic are disproportionately impacting people experiencing homelessness, communities of color and people with disabilities and/or underlying health conditions. In Santa Barbara, the Women’s Fund and many of our grantees are helping to make a difference!