In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced every organization to rethink how they meet the needs of those they serve. For Options For All, this meant finding new, innovative ways to connect our participants to staff and resources. We quickly revolutionized our process to create alternative services that allowed for remote learning and engagement. The aim was to deliver a meaningful curriculum that reinforced wellness and gave program participants a sense of inclusion. We wanted to improve our participants’ quality of life and address the challenges of social isolation and emotional disconnection. Now, participants can interact with each other and their Direct Service Professionals in a safe, virtual environment. According to OFA Engagement Coach Denice Patron, “It’s truly been a whirlwind, but we have been able to support and deliver services consistently and safely since the start of the public health crisis.
With the initial hurdle of moving to remote services met, the next objective was to provide the necessary technology to connect to participants who needed it. In August of 2020, Options For All held its inaugural Bow Ties & Sandals Gala, a virtual event that featured music, entertainment, and even a delicious, safely-delivered meal. Through the incredible support of gala attendees, we raised funds to purchase 300 iPads to be distributed to participants. “When we say ‘Options For All’, we mean it, said Hillarie Holcomb, OFA Marketing & Communications Manager. “Technology will no longer be a barrier for our participants”, continued Holcomb. Each individual’s needs have always been a top priority at Options for All. The purchase of these iPads helps ensure that both instructors and participants can continue building skills and achieving their goals.
Even with the unexpected switch from in-person to remote services, participants have genuinely thrived in this new, virtual environment. In 2020, 70% of OFA participants received remote services, logging over 11 million minutes in distance learning sessions. Thanks to the generosity of our incredible supporters, donors, and staff, Options For All has safely connected to participants —one iPad at a time.