Normally a hub of various activities, from classes and field trips to dances and more, Clallam Mosaic is getting a bit of an organizational overhaul.
Like a number of groups across the region and nation, Clallam Mosaic — a nonprofit dedicated to empowering individuals with special needs — had to kind of reinvent itself in the stark reality that is life with the 2019 novel coronavirus, Mosaic leaders said.
“Suddenly, we found ourselves challenged on many fronts as we tried to remain connected with our participants, and to combat the resurging social isolation Mosaic has been working to diminish for more than twenty years,” Catherine McKinney, program and communications director, said.
“We needed to recreate our curriculum, create delivery systems that worked for our participants and our instructors,” she said. “And do it all constrained by the loss of revenue from program fees and cancelled fundraising activities.”
To revamp how programs and supports are being delivered while keeping in compliance with the statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, Mosaic staff and volunteers now use one-on-one phone, video and social media check-ins, and deliver “Mosaic at Home” care and activity bags to connect with their clients.
The “Mosaic at Home” care bags include blank, stamped and addressed postcards. Participants were instructed to paint, draw, color or write on the blank side, sign their name to the backside and drop in the mail. The returned “Postcards from Home,” as the ongoing project is called, are shared on Mosaic’s website (www.clallam mosaic.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Clallam Mosaic).
Also included in the bags are snack packs were provided by the Port Angeles Food Bank, washable fabric masks were donated by the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club of Sequim and sponsorship provided by Molina Healthcare of Washington; and washable fabric masks were donated by the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club of Sequim.
After delivering more than 40 bags, McKinney said, requests to be added to the delivery list came pouring in.
“The response, from both participants and families, to the at home bags has been amazing,” she said. “Folks came outside to wave and smile, tell stories, eventually asking when Mosaic classes will begin again.”
McKinney added that the community support has fueled interest in the creation of more “Mosaic at Home” bags.
At Mosaic events prior to the statewide shutdown, group members say that individuals with special needs come together to learn, socialize and express themselves through fun and creative activities.
“There’s laughter, side hugs and high fives shared all through the day,” McKinney said. “Some days have as few as two classes, while other days, we offer three or four classes, with upwards of 30 participants. Add caregivers, who many participants regard as friends, and the excitement, conversations and energy levels can explode into a joyful empowering noise.”
The statewide directive forced the cancellation of the regular classes, Friday Friends trips and monthly dance events.
Technology challenges, successes
Mosaic staff, like many other organizations in similar situations, looked to technology to help keep connected with clients, but a variety of challenges popped up. Living situations vary among participants, with some in group homes, some with families and still others living predominantly alone with support from part-time caregivers.
Many Mosaic participants do not use technology or have the resources to purchase such technologies, McKinney said, whether its a cell phone or desktop/laptop computer. Many of them are nonverbal or challenged with low literacy skills as well, she said.
Despite the challenges, Mosaic held its first Zoom meeting on April 26 and McKinney said it was a success.
“Participants were so happy to see faces, hear their friends’ and instructors’ voices,” she said McKinney. “When asked if they wanted more online activities, the answer was a resounding ‘Yes.’ And one-on-one sessions as well.”
Because a number of regular Mosaic participants have underlying medical conditions that place them in the high health risk category, this group will likely remain sheltered for a more extended time, McKinney noted. The reality of being able to host “regular,” in-person classes may be more than a year away, she said.
“We are looking at more one-on-one interactions, delivering more ‘Mosaic at Home’ bags, virtual or broadcast classes and eventually, how to fully re-open in-person programs,” McKinney said.
“Ultimately, the challenges come down to funding, off-site delivery options, resources and technology accessibility,” she said, noting that the community in general has been very supportive of Mosaic and its mission.
Learn more about the “Mosaic at Home” project or virtual classes at www.clallammosaic.org.
For those not online, call McKinney at 360-681-8642.
The Postcards from Home will be shared on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Clallam Mosaic.
For more information or to support Clallam Mosaic, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virtual recreation club, exercise, more
Although Clallam Mosaic is closed, individuals with special needs can still connect with each other and instructors through virtual meetups.
The free 30-minute virtual Mosaic MeetUps! will be held each weekday through June 5.
Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the MeetUps! begin at 10 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays the virtual fun begins at 1 p.m.
The MeetUps!, held via the Zoom platform, offer participants the chance to connect, socialize, exercise, share reading activities, learn about animals, play games and more.
Clubs include “Rec Club with Emma,” “Exercise with Karinn,” Reading Club, “Animal Friends with Carah and Jacob” and Fun MeetUps!
During the COVID-19 health emergency, Clallam Mosaic has cancelled all in-person classes and most activities. The monthly dance scheduled for May 16 is cancelled.
For more information or to support Mosaic MeetUps! or other Mosaic at Home activities, visit www.ClallamMosaic.org, call 360-681-8642 or email to info@ClallamMosaic.org.