The pandemic isn’t just one big problem: it’s splintered out into lots of little ones, touching nearly everyone’s lives.
“It was a little rough with COVID hitting,” said Charles Slaughter, a Madison small business owner who works in video production. “We kind of had to shut down.”
Slaughter said his business, Driven Marketing Solutions, is on hold as he waits for the pandemic to end.
“We are kind of stuck,” he said.
In the meantime, navigating financial solutions can be tough, adding a web of obstacles easy to get lost in.
“There’s a ton of places that will route you somewhere else,” Slaughter said.
He ended up finding a launching point in Project Recovery, a free service launched last summer designed to meet the emotional needs of people in Wisconsin during the pandemic.
“Project Recovery, for me, really put all those pieces together,” Slaughter said.
“We get all sorts of calls,” said Matida Bojang, a team leader for Project Recovery. “I think we’ve all been impacted by this pandemic.”
Project Recovery can help callers with COVID-19 testing or vaccination information but also financial or mental health concerns.
“People call us for all sorts of things,” Bojang said. “Some people call us because they’re depressed and they just need someone to talk to and just someone to listen to them and be a launching pad and vent.”
Though it’s atypical, she said a counselor recently heard from a mother who said she was going to drop her children off at day care and kill herself.
“We get a wide range of things we deal with,” Bojang said. “There’s a lot going on and I feel like everyone’s mental health has been impacted in some way. There shouldn’t be this stigma around mental health. People should seek help when they need it, and we’re here as a resource for individuals.”
Counselors offer emotional support, help prioritizing tasks, resource referrals, assistance making plans and more.
Project Recovery is funded through partnerships with FEMA, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, WISCAP and local community action agencies.
The Community Action Coalition helped Madison resident Jenna LaMere a few years ago when she was going through a divorce.
“I didn’t know where to turn,” LaMere said, adding that that played a role in her becoming a Project Recovery counselor. “I loved the opportunity to reach out to people in my same situation.”
She’s now happy to pay it forward and lend a helping hand.
“We’re all going through the same things, so remember that when you don’t know whether to reach out for help or not,” LaMere said. “There’s nothing too big or too small.”
Good things can snowball, too.
“It’s those little things that add up to big things,” LaMere said.
Funding for the service currently goes through June.