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COVID-19 has changed working environments for employees everywhere. For Fresno EOC it was important to transition staff who had little or no work to alternative positions. While offices are closed to the public, displaced workers were able to do 2020 Census outreach through online chat, phone banking and the Food Express Bus.

“Throughout this pandemic, we are thankful for finding innovative solutions to the challenges we face as a community,” Emilia Reyes, Fresno EOC CEO, said. “For over 50 years, giving back to our community is the core purpose of why we exist and that’s why it is important for us to ensure we take care of our employees as we continue to serve our community.”

Employees were able to keep their jobs at the agency while also furthering an initiative such as the 2020 Census. Encouraging households to fill out their questionnaire has been a priority for Fresno EOC since before COVID-19. These numbers can potentially affect federal funding for LIHEAP, Head Start, Medicaid, WIC, SNAP and other important programs.

“While many people across the country are facing job loss, it made me happy to know we could transition our employees to other positions where they can continue to get paid and help our community get counted,” Gabrielle Rivas, Content and Community Engagement Specialist, said.

Rivas has been working on census outreach and activities for a year and a half. In March she began training staff from other programs to begin phone banking, Census Chat and outreach on the Food Express Bus.

“Even though I didn’t have experience phone banking at a large scale and we hadn’t yet done the groundwork, I committed myself to learn,” Rivas said. “Getting started took some troubleshooting, but our goal was to allow our employees to continue working and reach out to those who still need to fill out their census form.”

Chat allows visitors on the Fresno EOC website to talk with a live agent and ask questions about the 2020 Census. With the Food Express Bus, staff are giving families census information when they pick up their meals.

“Working at the Food Express Bus has been awesome,” Olga Moya, Street Saints Program Aide said. “I’m able to talk with the Spanish parents and answer their questions. I let them know the census impacts services and resources like those we provide with Fresno EOC.”

Susan Luna was working with Fresno EOC WIC before transitioning to census outreach. At her job with WIC, she called participants to remind them of their appointments. For her phone banking was an easy transition and also allowed her to work from home.

“Because I am in the at-risk category and could no longer report to the office, I got worried,” Luna said. “I didn’t even know I could be moved while WIC is closed. I appreciate Fresno EOC and my program for thinking of me for this project. It’s a relief because everything worked out.”

Employees continue to be a vital part of our agency as we provide resources, essential food, transportation, and shelter services to those in need. Please visit our program pages for specific program adjustments.