2021: A Year of Perseverance & Purposeful Service
The DeKalb Human Services Department continued to positively impact the lives of individuals and families in 2021, despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. While we never imagined that we would still be working remotely after twenty-two months, Human Services has remained committed to the provision of quality programs, services and supports for the County’s most venerable populations.
We began the year coordinating, in partnership with the DeKalb Board of Health, the County’s first “pop up” COVID vaccination clinic for seniors. Interest in the COVID vaccine was extremely high and as a result, the Department received 1,300 registration requests. While the vaccine was limited in supply at the time, the Department was able to successfully vaccinate approximately 500 seniors through the “pop up” vaccination clinic. We also helped to coordinate COVID vaccinations for home bound seniors in partnership with the DeKalb Board of Health & DeKalb Fire Rescue.
Human Services maintained its key youth programs in 2021, serving more than 1,000 DeKalb students through a combination of virtual and in person programs and activities. The Department partnered with DeKalb Work Source and MARTA to implement a pilot youth entrepreneurial program selling water at the Indian Creek & Kensington stations which was implemented through our Office of Youth Services. We continued our work with the DeKalb Youth Commission- mentoring and training upcoming leaders from seventeen DeKalb County High Schools. Human Services also established a new partnership with Georgia State University, School of Social Work and collaborated with their graduate interns to develop new strategies for youth services. In addition, the Department partnered with Morehouse College to enhance the mentorship components of our RISE UP Program.
While our senior centers remained closed, due to the ongoing health concerns of the pandemic, the Department’s Virtual Village: Senior Center Without Walls, an online platform, hosted over 60 online classes, for 4,500 classroom hours with more than 50,000 visits to the website recorded. This initiative received national recognition from the National Association of Counties (NACO) last year.
In the Fall, we introduced the first outdoor classroom model for seniors at the Central DeKalb Senior Center, in which our seniors participated in the Ageless Grace wellness initiative- a highly effective brain fitness program.
We celebrated Senior Center Month in September with outdoor programming at all DeKalb senior centers. Our seniors came together, following approved COVID prevention protocols, and participated in health and wellness initiatives and social activities. In October, the Department received a $90,000 grant from the DeKalb Board of Health Department to assist with flu and COVID vaccination clinics through 2023. The Lou Walker Senior Center received national accreditation as a Senior Center of Excellence from the National Council of Aging.
The Human Services Department provided 265,934 congregate and home delivered meals to seniors over the course of the last year. In addition, the Department provided 36,881 case management hours to seniors. We provided 14,548 rides to seniors to their dialysis and medical appointments, to grocery stores, to get COVID vaccinations and COVID testing, to shopping facilities and other places within the community.
The Department’s Human Services Grant Program awarded fifty-three (53) grants in the amount $907, 452 to local non-profits to supplement their work within the community. The Department also partnered with our commissioners to support events around food insecurity, COVID vaccinations and school supply drives.
The DeKalb Human Services Department has proven that we are ready for any challenge. We finished 2021 strong- with no gaps in our service delivery. We look forward to all that we will accomplish in the months ahead.