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NyECC nearly 100% operational despite coronavirus

The NyE Communities Coalition, widely considered one of the most important hubs of information and resources in Nye County, is operating at nearly 100 percent capacity despite the many challenges it has had to overcome in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NyECC Chief Executive Office Stacy Smith and NyECC Chief Operating Officer Tammi Odegard hosted a Zoom meeting with the Pahrump Valley Times to detail how the coalition is managing in these uncertain times.

“We’ve actually gotten almost fully back up to speed, we’re just all remote. But I think we’ve adapted almost everything. There are still a few pockets that we are working out the kinks on and like with everything else in the world right now, everything changes from moment to moment, so as soon as you get a system or process laid out, everything changes. But we are rolling with the punches and I think we’re doing a pretty good job with it. We’re fortunate that we have a strong IT department and pretty flexible people so we have been able to make it work,” Smith explained.

She said at this time the coalition is keeping hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and all phones have been transferred so those who call into the coalition can still get in touch with whomever they need to in order to obtain services and resources. NyECC has also created Zoom accounts for staff members and AmeriCorps VISTA members so they can continue to perform their job duties.

As for access to the campus itself, walk-ins are no longer permitted and many of the staff members are now working from home, rather than from their offices. However, residents do still have limited access, with the ability to schedule appointments.

“If somebody, say, needs to use a computer, we are getting it set up so that they can get an appointment to come in. Everything we are doing is appointment-based, so we can follow the CDC guidelines,” Smith stated. “We’re calling it ‘wiping in, wiping out’ and that is what we are doing, even as staff members. We are limiting our access to the offices but there are times when we have to go into the office, to get paperwork or complete payroll. A lot of the financial items require systems that are there. So we wipe everything when we come in, and wipe everything when we go, trying to keep everything sanitized.”

Odegard added, “I would say we are approaching 100 percent operational, aside from people not being able to walk in and meet face to face here. So there might be someone who comes by the campus and sees that it is closed and they don’t have a phone so they cannot get us, but otherwise I think we are serving people at at least 90 percent capacity. I feel like we are still getting a lot of work done. We’re able to answer a ton of questions and still link people, even while we’re working from our homes.”

The communities’ needs are constantly changing but the NyECC is doing all that it can to help meet those needs as they shift and alter. Many of its workshops and classes, such as its diabetes classes and yoga sessions, are now or will soon be available in an online format and events, such as the NyECC’s annual HOPE Run/Walk hosted over the past week, are being adjusted as well to account for social distancing and limited in-person contact.

In fact, Smith remarked that the coalition’s next big public event, the Stand for Children Teacher of the Year awards set for May, will not be canceled though it will definitely see some major changes. “Obviously, we can’t get teachers and the public together to recognize them, so that process has been flushed out. But it’s going to be done in an innovative way that is engaging. We’re just trying to use technology to make sure that we are getting to the core of the intent of the activity, while not getting anyone sick,” Smith stated.

As for its grant funding, upon which the organization heavily relies, Smith said the entities providing those grant dollars have proven to be exceptionally open to embracing different methods to utilize the funding.

“Our state and federal funders have been really good about this, I spoke with some of them and that’s the first thing they are talking about is, how can we adapt?” Smith reported. “Obviously we still have to follow those grant guidelines but they’re just giving us that flexibility to consider what’s going on in the community so that we can figure out how to shuffle these projects so we are adapting to meet the current needs. For example, if we have a grant that’s helping us deal with alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention, how does that mesh with what’s going on with the coronavirus, what are some things we can do so that we are still meeting the measures of the grant but yet we’re dealing with the reality we have right now.”

In addition to doing their best to continue serving the community, NyECC staffers have all compiled a series of resource information regarding organizations and businesses that are still operating and providing services and this information is continually being updated.

“It’s really hard for everyone to keep up with everything but we have two main people who are dealing with that so we can keep up with the most current information,” Odegard said. “I’m glad we were able to pull that together so quickly.”

The Community Resource List is available on the coalition’s website www.nyecc.org

“Medically, we all need to stay the course to help flatten that curve. That’s something we support heavily at the NyECC is making sure we do our part with the nation to flatten this curve and make sure we’re not spreading anything,” Smith concluded.

For more information visit the coalition’s website at www.nyecc.org or call 775-727-9970 in Pahrump and 775-482-6561 in Tonopah.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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