Moving Ahead through COVID-19 for MAP

Since it first began 25 years ago, our Sullivan Family Moving Ahead Program (MAP) has helped hundreds of those who’ve experienced homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and/or a history of incarceration, find their footing and regain more stability and purpose in their lives. MAP is a 14-week job and life-skills program that has been an entirely in-person experience, consisting of in-person lectures, hands-on workshops, assignments, and field trips.

Because of the pandemic and ensuing quarantine, seven weeks into the first MAP class of 2020  — the program went on hiatus.

While the Workforce Development team regrouped to determine how MAP could move forward in a COVID world, they kept in regular touch with the members of the class.

Jae is the Employment Readiness and Supportive Services Supervisor at SFH, not only supporting the two MAP Instructors, Lisa and Terry, but also directly working with MAP students to provide vocational rehabilitation services. “As you can imagine, having to shut down the MAP program was traumatic for people who’ve already experienced so much trauma in their lives. Connections matter,” Jae said. “So it was essential that, during the hiatus period, we kept in touch with our class members and kept up the momentum.” 

Each week, members of the WFD team, like Employment Specialists Srin and Joseph, connected with each student for a live phone meeting or email exchange to make sure that they were getting all of the support they needed. This included food and medical needs, as well as making students aware of the full range of resources still provided by SFH and the City of Boston. WFD staff members Lisa and Jacky kept current and past students engaged with regular reminders, such as benefits access, food resources, or wellness tips.

Even while on hiatus from class, WFD was able to continue paying for the cost of sober home residency for both the currently-on-hiatus MAP class and the just-graduated class 183, which had their ceremony just 2 days before quarantine became reality! A weekly stipend was also provided to class 184 through the hiatus from class.

On June 1st, MAP class 184 resumed with a hybrid learning approach. The class met once a week in person at SFH. The other four days, students took part in real-time virtual learning, as well as self-paced online learning. Students who did not have a smartphone or computer were given the loan of a Chromebook.

As we evolved in our approach and adjustment to both what we could offer and what students needed, we were able to provide a total of 3 on-site days at SFH with 2 off-site remote working days. When on-site, students received the additional support of Access Point and Employment Specialist Supervisor Ashley and newly hired Employment Specialist Melissa.

While a number of students have left the class for a variety of reasons, such as obtaining employment, those who still remain in Class 184 will graduate on June 29th, with the on-site graduation streamed for friends, family, and staff via Zoom.

Check out the WFD Virtual Office page or our Youtube page to explore resources created by the team for virtual learning.