By Jessica Mathews /

Survey results from local human service agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic are being described as a feel good read during a dark time.

The Livingston County Human Services Collaborative Body is a workgroup consisting of health and human service agencies in the community. Multiple workgroups fall underneath the body that addresses all sorts of topics from homelessness to hunger, transportation and all-abilities. It put together a survey to gather feedback from partners and agencies about how they were able to serve people since COVID-19 hit, including their challenges and successes. Community Collaborative Planner Amy Johnston tells WHMI the community needs assessment workgroup decided they needed to find a way to highlight all of the work that was done over the past few months so they put together a survey and sent it out.

Johnston said when going through the survey results; they realized it was a love letter to the community. She says it recognized the hard work of those that have such passion for the community and how skillful everyone had to be to navigate through the last few months and from the onset of the pandemic. Johnston says the success stories were amazing to read and a lot of the benefits came out of coming together and creating these really flexible, adaptable, innovative action plans that will last beyond COVID-19. She says the survey results are an inspirational read that will leave people feeling good about the work done over the past few months and continues to be done.

Johnston said one of the survey questions was related to biggest success. In reading through those success stories, she says the common themes were adapt quickly, be creative, be innovative and have limited interruption of services to the client or consumer so nothing was missed and no one was left behind or left out. Johnston noted the collaborations and coalitions that work together were already established long before the pandemic and at the beginning of the shutdown, they were already meeting and coming up with plans to make sure there were no gaps in services but also expand to meet the increased need. She said the amount of work done was incredible, including how quickly agencies were able to adapt and pivot to a virtual world almost overnight – noting the amount of technology for staff and clients to get up to speed and still be able serve those in the community was impressive.

While there were many positives, Johnston noted there is tremendous concern about the upcoming year as a lot of agencies had fundraisers that were postponed or canceled and the community need won’t go away. She thinks the winter will be a challenge for local agencies and hopes the community can rally together to support them in their work to make sure people are housed, fed and cared for in the way Livingston County is known for. Johnston said the local collaboration is known well beyond the county’s borders and she hopes that continues through the years to come but it will be challenging.

The full survey results and a press release are attached.