Editor's note: This story first appeared in the winter 2020 issue of the Hearts Together, a special joint campus magazine publication of Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor.
On March 23, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a stay-at-home order for the state due to the alarming spread of the coronavirus.
While every corner of Michigan was impacted, Detroit bore a particularly brutal brunt. Vital services, structures, and programs that long existed to care for the city’s most vulnerable population were in peril. The heroic efforts of essential workers in every employment sector helped to keep the city and its citizens safe.
Meet two Concordians who provided uncommon care for their patients and scholars during Detroit’s darkest hours.
STANLEY STINSON (NURSING ’19), STREET OUTREACH NURSE AND CUAA ALUMNUS
When Michigan’s stay-at-home order went into effect, Stanley Stinson’s mission to provide emotional and medical services to Detroit’s “rough sleeping” (homeless) citizens became significantly more challenging and exponentially more critical.
As a nurse on an overnight street outreach team, Stinson and his crew of health professionals and volunteers routinely comb urban areas in search of people living in the shadows. From an unmarked van, the team distributes food, blankets, and basic necessities, as well as checks on their regulars to provide primary care services, and mental and spiritual health support for those in need. Over the years, many of their patients have become friends.
Related: A time for new services
When COVID-19 hit Detroit, Stinson’s patients had no homes to shelter in, and the critical services upon which they relied closed. In many cases, the street outreach team was their only source for information about the pandemic and, even more critically, their only human contact. Stinson and his team had to navigate new safety protocols that wouldn’t compromise their distinct personal care. They also had to procure food, supplies, PPE, and outdoor gear that had become scarce when the city shut down.
“Our patients were alone and afraid,” says Stinson. “The streets were empty, and everything they knew and relied upon to get by was different; was gone. During that scary time, the most critical thing our patients needed was other people. People who cared for their physical, mental, and spiritual health. That is what we do.”
JACQUELINE DUNGEY (MS ’12), PRINCIPAL AND CUW ALUMNA
New Paradigm Loving Academy in Detroit’s North End is a safe space in which scholars want to learn and contribute to the thriving family culture. The K-8 charter school is located within a highly disadvantaged district, where students face an inequitable amount of challenges inside and outside of the classroom each day. The school’s motto is “Whatever it takes, our kids deserve it.”
“Our kids really do deserve it,” says Jacqueline Dungey, principal. “It’s not just academic, although we are committed to the achievement of each one of our scholars. We care about the whole child, and focus as much on their social and emotional development as we do academics.”
As a mother of six children, Dungey and her husband, Jody, have their hands full with scholars of their own, but that doesn’t stop her from doing whatever it takes to keep her Loving families safe and supported.
Related: A time for personal growth
“Whatever it takes” took on a whole new meaning during COVID-19. When the school made the decision to move classes online, Dungey and her staff went to great lengths to contact every student in the school.
“It was all hands on deck,” says Dungey. “We tracked them down like we were detectives.”
For Dungey, that meant going door to door if necessary to find and account for the safety and wellness of her students.
This was not a “one-and-done” demonstration of concern. The staff at Loving Academy connected weekly with each student throughout the school year. While academic success was important to the school staff, far more pressing concerns were addressed during the check-ins. Issues including food instability, technology needs, diaper shortages, rent assistance, mental health concerns, and safety in the home were discussed. Sometimes Dungey and her staff were needed to step in. Always they were there to listen.
“I give my scholars, my babies, the same type of love and attention that I give my own kids,” says Dungey. “I have high expectations for them and want nothing but the best for them.”
Related: Timing is essential
The winter 2020 Hearts Together magazine hit mailboxes in mid-November. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email Jennifer.Hackmann@cuaa.edu.
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