In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has spread throughout Louisiana, the state where Evergreen serves the most individuals and has the most community homes. Four of our six divisions in the state have been impacted. To date, six of our community homes have been placed under quarantine after residents or staff members contracted COVID-19. Most tragically, two people living in two different community homes passed away from COVID-19.
Despite the risk, Evergreen’s Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), have put the people we serve first. Evergreen employs nearly 1,800 DSPs, and this incredible group of men and women have sacrificed their health in order to protect those we serve. Many of our frontline staff in Louisiana have tested positive with COVID-19, and most of these cases were contracted after they volunteered to quarantine in a community home to care for sick residents.
While our community home outbreaks have occurred in Louisiana, the other states where we provide services (Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia and Florida) are being impacted. We have had to close all of our storefront social enterprises. None of our states have been able to hold Day Programs for weeks, and we are anticipating many more weeks before they can do so. Individuals served in states where we do not have community home settings, like Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas, are even more isolated from their peers, as they shelter in their caregiver’s home. And divisions in all of the states where we provide services are experiencing heightened and costly challenges with bringing individuals who are hospitalized for non-COVID-19 issues home from hospitalizations.
Early into this outbreak, Evergreen saw its modest supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being drained and we couldn’t find anywhere to buy more. Evergreen’s senior executive team made a swift decision to utilize HEAVENDROPt to create quality face masks using parachute material for our workforce. HEAVENDROPt is Evergreen’s largest social enterprise, and it owns one of the largest supplies of retired military parachutes in the country. Evergreen is committed to providing all of our frontline staff with HEAVENDROPt face masks during this health crisis, and we are using our internal resources to do this. You can help us recover these costs by purchasing face masks for yourself and your family.
I am deeply aware of the economic challenges this evolving situation is creating for many households. The truth is that we need your support now more than ever. Your support will assist us in dealing with the financial impact we are facing as we cancel fundraising events and increase our expenses for staff overtime for home quarantines, essential supplies and protective equipment.
If you are in a position to give, we ask that you consider making a gift directly on our website. Or participate in one of the upcoming Giving Days listed below in areas where we provide services:
East Texas Giving Day (April 28, early giving open)
Give For Good North Louisiana (May 5, early giving open)
North Texas Giving Day (May 5, early giving open)
South Louisiana Giving Day (May 7, early giving open)
Give NOLA (June 2)
I also wanted to bring to your attention the expanded charitable giving incentives available to donors through the new CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. It allows taxpayers who take the standard deduction to claim an “above-the-line” deduction up to $300 for cash charitable contributions to qualified charities this year. The bill also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60% of adjusted gross income to 100%. For more information, click here.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. And if you have already donated or plan to give, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I know that we will get through this, and I am looking forward to the day when we can all be together again.
Sue Buchholtz, President/CEO