This blog post was written by Khanya Brann, Communications Fellow

Are you looking for a way to support your family, friends, and neighbors throughout this crisis? Become a COVID-19 Community Response Captain, a trusted messenger trained to connect people to tools and services designed to lighten the additional load many Philly residents are carrying right now. 

In April, as part of a larger effort to pivot our outreach strategy to reflect the immediate needs of the communities we work with, Philly Counts launched the COVID-19 Community Response Captain Program.

The program – offered on Thursdays in English, Spanish, French, and Chinese – was created to empower residents and community leaders with the knowledge and resources they need to support their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Community Response Captains who complete the 1-hour training are going to be able to answer questions and share updated information about COVID-19, connect community members to resources (food assistance, financial help, COVID testing, medical care for undocumented immigrants, etc), and to find language support for non-English speakers. Information featured in the training is updated frequently to reflect the most accurate public health guidance and resources from the City and state and national officials.

Nagiarry Porcena-Meneus and her grandmother, who is Haitian, attended a French training on April 23.

“I felt closer to home listening to the resources in [French],” Porcena-Meneus said. “My grandmother was listening with me, [and it made] her feel part of a larger village in this time of uncertainty and deepen[ed] conversations about ways in which her own community can sustain together.”

The training promotes civic action by encouraging captains to participate in voting, the 2020 Census, and local volunteer opportunities. To date, Philly Counts has successfully trained over 2,000 people from all corners of the city who were able to return to their communities as a trusted source of information and support.

The COVID-19 Community Response Captain Program was designed around the idea of everyday people helping each other and the understanding that in times of crisis, people are most likely to turn to people they trust for help. 

During this time, we know that Philadelphia families may have urgent needs that need to be addressed, even as we work to ensure that every person is counted in the census. 

Our team and our network of Community Response Captains are prioritizing the immediate health and safety of Philadelphians, while continuing to work toward a complete and accurate 2020 Census count, with our city’s recovery from the impact of COVID-19 in mind. 

For the last three weeks, Philly Counts staff and over 300 volunteer phone bankers who have completed our COVID-19 Community Response Captain training have used an expanded script to provide support and identify resources for those in need and remind them of the importance of completing the census. 

COVID-19 Community Response Captains are also encouraged to share information about COVID-19, the 2020 Census, and the resources available to support residents in their communities through social media and virtual (or physical) neighborhood bulletins. 

Your community needs someone like you – join the movement!

Sign up for a training in English, Spanish, French, Chinese or Korean today!