Whittier Daily News | Children’s Bureau’s Jose Ramos works to keep pace with pandemic-spurred need among local families
Latest installment in a series of stories about people who have made a big difference in the community during a time framed by the coronavirus pandemic
Every month, low-income families have to make difficult decisions about what bills will be paid, and what won’t. As companies shuttered for the pandemic, families lost precious jobs and income that helped keep them afloat, making those calculations even more dire.
Food or rent? Gas or oil? Diapers or formula?
As a senior director with the Children’s Bureau of Southern California, Jose Ramos of Whittier has spent the last 26 years distributing baby supplies so families don’t have to factor diapers or formula into those calculations.
On average, the nonprofit agency has distributed baby formula, diapers, food to more than 400 families a month since the outbreak began.
“Families often say to us, if you could just help us with diapers and food, then we’ll be able to manage the rest of our financial situation for the month,” said Ramos. “Our goal is to support families. If you don’t have to spend $200 a month on diapers, that’s $200 that can be spent on other needs.”
The daily pandemic news has been consistently grim. As of Monday, 6,914 people were being treated for the virus in hospitals throughout Los Angeles County, with 20% of patients in intensive care units and 17% on ventilators. While there are still some beds available to treat patients at hospitals, the state considers the county’s intensive-care unit capacity at zero percent, and Dr. Christina Ghaly of the county’s health services department described situations where patients waiting to be admitted into hospital rooms were being treated in ambulances or receiving care in a hospital’s conference room or gift shop.
Meanwhile, stay-home orders have had a deepening impact on local businesses, with many forced to lay off workers or cut back on their hours. Families in communities of color are often among the hardest hit.
Ramos says there has been a mammoth need among families in the communities they serve in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The Children’s Bureau would normally make house calls for the families they serve, but the pandemic has forced them to switch to online and zero-contact distribution methods. Sometimes they use Amazon to make deliveries, but they’ve also had success at drive-thru distributions, and by sending e-gift cards directly to families to purchase holiday gifts.