Despite COVID-19, Girls Inc. forges ahead with mission

Girls Inc. member Carissa, and her little sister sporting their brand new Girls Inc. shirts!

Even a worldwide pandemic can’t stop Girls Inc. of Owensboro Daviess County.

It didn’t matter that clients couldn’t come to the center’s sites anymore, said Tish Correa Osborne, CEO.

She, her staff and volunteers never considered taking a hiatus from services during the coronavirus. During a global health crisis, they decided girls would need them more than ever, so they decided to live out the nonprofit’s “strong, smart and bold” slogan.

If clients couldn’t come to Girls Inc., the nonprofit would go to them.

“Each of the girls received personal letters and had one-on-one calls from staff,” Correa Osborne said.

Providing that level of care to more than 260 girls was no small feat for an organization that employs five full-time and eight part-time staff.

Since the coronavirus hit Kentucky, Girls Inc. has served more than 3,000 meals and produced 99 virtual class activities and Zoom meetings. One video taught girls how to make cloth face masks.

Girls Inc. hosted a front-porch baby shower for a client’s mom who gave birth prematurely during COVID-19.

Volunteers and staff delivered food, household supplies and goodie bags.

All that one-on-one attention took far more time and resources.

“To serve a girl has taken on a whole new meaning,” Correa Osborne said.

Girls Inc. depended, in part, on a group of 11 community partners to continue serving. For example, State Farm awarded the nonprofit a $2,000 Good Neighbor grant that helped pay for resources during the pandemic, and Bar Louie provided 450 meals a week for Girls Inc. clients.

Gov. Andy Beshear has not announced a date for facilities like Girls Inc. to reopen.

The pandemic has proved to be an emotional time, Correa Osborne said, especially when it came to some one-on-one wellness checks.

Staff and volunteers found two girls — ages 9 and 7 — alone in a local hotel room. The girls weren’t sure where their mom went.

“They are a regular stop for us as the family had previously been reported for abuse, and there is recurring domestic violence,” Correa Osborne wrote in a letter to the Girls Inc. board of directors.

During COVID-19, the nonprofit has paid to hook up a client’s household appliances, delivered diapers, found volunteers to mow a yard and provided a bed for a child sleeping on the floor, to name a few acts of kindness.

All the while, Girls Inc. has lost $100,000 in event funds and fears some of its unpaid pledges may not be honored because of the pandemic.

Through it all, Correa Osborne said, she has cried tears of joy, sadness and exhaustion.

“It’s been crazy, but wonderful,” Correa Osborne said. “I’m so proud of our staff and community for working together.”

By Renee Beasley Jones, Messenger-Inquirer