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Jessica Seinfeld & the Good+Foundation

Supporting families in the COVID-19 pandemic

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"If it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all Americans freeze in place for 14 days while sitting six feet apart," the New York Times recently wrote, "the whole epidemic would sputter to a halt."

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Of course, that's easier said than done. While many of us are hitting pause, locked down in our homes, we still need to eat, we still need supplies; our children still need diapers and medicine. And for families who live paycheck to paycheck, life grinding to a halt is not an option. It means lost jobs and opportunities. It means disaster.

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Which is why we're proud to partner with Jessica Seinfeld and her foundation, Good+, which works with anti-poverty programs across the country to provide tangible goods and much-needed services to low-income parents and caregivers. It's a cause that's particularly personal for the Veronicas. Both have been longtime supporters through the years; Veronica Swanson Beard is a board member as well.

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This isn't the first time we've featured Seinfeld for #VBGivesBack. We introduced you to her back in 2015. What started as Baby Buggy—and an initial clothing-and-gear drive in New York City—has expanded into a nationwide nonprofit now out in the field aiding those impacted by COVID-19. Her dedicated staff is doing what they need to do to provide critical goods and microgrants in a landscape that grows increasingly more challenging. Every time they hit a wall, they find a way to climb over it.

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Take, for instance, a recent setback in LA. When the city focused its attention on food distribution, Seinfeld and her team collaborated with Los Angeles Council President Emeritus Herb Wesson to get free diapers, baby wipes and toys to local families in need. That's just one example of their passion, commitment and resourcefulness rising to the occasion. For more, just keep reading.

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Q&A

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What is Good+ doing in response to the pandemic?
We’ve never been busier. Our team is working around the clock, racing to get deliveries out. We’re determined not to stop the flow of desperately needed product and gear, which is becoming even more essential to our families, especially as stores are selling out of these supplies. Right now, the majority of our work is in LA and NYC though, as we speak, we have a truckload of diapers and wipes heading up to a partner in Lowell, Massachusetts. And with the situation constantly evolving, we’re getting as creative as possible.
One of the things we did was start a Good+ Crisis Fund, which allows us to be super nimble. We’re also giving out microgrants, small $1-2k grants but they will make a huge difference for families that urgently need help. We’re dealing with the current moment, but also looking ahead and setting ourselves up to be flexible and continue serving families.

How do these microgrants work?
Program leaders can request funding to purchase what families need in real time. It could be for an inhaler for their daughter with asthma, a grocery store gift card to buy groceries after a job loss, or an emergency purchase of formula for a newborn. We know that the social workers at our partner programs are best equipped to provide this emergency support since they know the unique needs of each family they work with.

Jessica Seinfeld

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How are you able to operate during this time?
Good+ has 75 partners across the country that are working with families. We spent the last week doing three things. First, we reached out to all of our partners to determine who was open and who would be able to get essential goods out to families. Second, we worked at all hours to receive as many deliveries as possible of urgently needed items like diapers, thermometers and wipes. Finally, we are constantly assessing the situation and figuring out how to protect our staff and the community and still get diapers, wipes, formula, thermometers and newborn baby care items out the door and distributed immediately.

That’s incredible…
We’ve been nonstop and that’s a blessing for our families, for our providers, and also for my team to help them stay focused and have perspective. Quarantine is no fun. But for low-income families, it's crushing. We have to do more.

What is urgently needed right now?
Diapers, wipes, formula, cleaning supplies.... But given the supply chain challenges and the fragility of our access to our warehouses, financial donations are the most helpful. Outside of what we are already providing, it’s impossible to anticipate exactly what individual families across the country need in the moment and in the next few weeks. Raising money through our Crisis Fund is our top priority and it enables us to be creative and responsive as this emergency continues to develop.

Dr. Alan-Michael Graves, Good+Foundation National Director, with donated goods to distribute to families in need during the COVID-19 outbreak

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“Each day, we are constantly revising and adapting to the ever-changing circumstances—and we will continue to do that.”

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Any stories you can share of the impact so far?
Last Tuesday, a grandmother from one of our partner programs in LA was granted custody of her newborn grandchild. The baby’s mother struggles with substance abuse and the father is currently incarcerated. The grandmother was ready for this challenge and wants to provide a safe and loving environment for the baby amidst this public health crisis; however, she didn’t have a safe place for the baby to sleep. In the middle of this crisis, Good+ met the grandmother’s caseworker at our LA warehouse for an emergency donation of a bassinet and other newborn supplies. Without this donation, the newborn could have been placed in foster care.
In New York, one of our wonderful partners in Washington Heights—which has closed its doors but is staying in contact with client families regularly through text—reported that layoffs have impacted over 80% of the families they work with. These are families that rely on income from work in the service and construction sectors. The families are concerned about having enough food, having enough diapers, keeping their housing, and managing the overwhelming toxic stress that the virus is now causing and that poverty exacerbates.
And one more story—a fatherhood program in Harlem requested games and toys since dads are homebound with their kids. We got board games and developmental toys out the door.

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What are the greatest challenges you’re facing?
We know that low-income workers are the most vulnerable during this crisis and that layoffs are disproportionately impacting this group. Some of our partners are already reporting a 70-80% loss of income for the families they serve as a result of this pandemic. These are parents who once worked as nannies, dishwashers in restaurants, security guards in stores or did construction. Our greatest challenge is getting critical items into the hands of these families despite the massive disruptions that are being caused by the outbreak. Each day, we are constantly revising and adapting to the ever-changing circumstances—and we will continue to do that.

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How can our readers help?
The Good+ Crisis Fund is the best way to help Good+ get essential items and emergency grants out into the community. Here’s where you can donate.

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