America Cardenas is the mother of two Girls Inc. girls, Yvette and Valentina. America spoke to Girls Inc. staff by phone during the quarantine period of COVID-19 to share her experiences during the pandemic and how Girls Inc. is helping her and her daughters stay connected.
The girls and I miss Girls Inc. A lot. We miss the facility, we miss the staff and we miss the environment. I want more than anything for your doors to open, the girls need the engagement, the freedom and the support that you all provide.
When this situation first began, the girls took it very hard. They were noticing the shortage of toilet paper and household items and because of this, they began asking us if they could go to the stores and shop. They were hearing messages from the news, of stores being wiped out and felt that we needed to stock up like everyone else. The girls became extremely worried, and we had to sit down and have a talk with them. We made sure to explain what was going on, as well as the importance of staying home, and washing our hands. Overall, it was terrifying, and sad to see that my 7-year old was worrying about something like this, when she shouldn’t be.
My son, the girls’ brother, who I check in with everyday, has taken a lot of responsibility. He often feels that it’s a lot on him, and has shared with me that it has become overwhelming. Not only has he been watching the girls while I work but he has been cooking, cleaning, and helping the girls with their homework. He has also decided to watch the girls when they practice their gymnastics, he’ll be their coach, and he’ll cheer them on. He has taken many roles since this change and it’s definitely made me feel sad. As a parent, I know that it is my responsibility to stay home with my children, but I need to provide for them financially. I work because I want to buy them a house, I work so that we are able to live better, I work for them to have bright futures.
I wish that as a family, we would have access to more emotional support. I feel this way because we all have something to do, the girls have Zoom, my son has homework, and I’m still working and at the end of it all, we become tired. It would be nice to have someone we can talk to, someone who will listen to us talk about our days and how they went. During this time it is important to let out anything and everything that we feel because there is a lot to handle and a lot going on. These times that we are facing are draining and I’m sure that there are other families who feel the same. Overall, it would be beneficial to us, as a family to have access to one-on-one therapy.
I still feel connected with Girls Inc. during this time because I receive and read all of the weekly emails, and newsletters. As for the girls, during this time, they have started watching all of the content and videos that are being created by the staff on the Girls Inc of Greater Santa Barbara YouTube. They do all of the activities whether it’s arts and crafts or gymnastics, and this has helped all of us stay and feel connected. As a parent, who is always busy and who is working throughout this situation, watching the videos that everyone on the Girls Inc. team has created has helped me immensely. There are days where I do not have the energy to keep the girls entertained, or engaged and that is where your YouTube videos have been a great support system.
I am looking forward to having Girls Inc. back in our lives, most importantly in the girls’ lives. Before the pandemic occurred, I felt secure, and I felt safe knowing my girls were at Girls Inc. while I was working. It is incredible and extremely helpful knowing that Monday through Friday, you had a staff working with each and every grade, doing different activities which were always hands-on.
I would love to let the staff know that we all miss them, that I have never felt that they were babysitters, in our eyes they are educators, they are role models. We want to Thank you for your time in making content and videos. These videos are being watched, and the activities are being done and we appreciate all the work everyone has done to keep our girls connected during a time where they need it the most. The girls and I miss Girls Inc. A lot. We miss the facility, we miss the staff and we miss the environment. I want more than anything for your doors to open, the girls need the engagement, the freedom and the support that you all provide. Please let everyone at Girls Inc. know that the girls, and all of the staff, are amazing, and they are the bomb!