So many members of the Clarke community have been making an incredible impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are eager to share some of their stories and celebrate their indispensable work, both inside and outside the home.
Parent of a Clarke preschooler and a healthcare aide, Kim must take special precautions both arriving to work and coming home to her daughter Autumn.
Kim Lavender, Clarke Preschooler Parent
Home Health and Hospice Care Aide
“You never know how important your job is until a situation like this happens,” says Kim Lavender, when asked about her work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kim has extensive professional experience as a caretaker, working for CareSense Home Health Care in Pennsylvania for six years, and prior to that working as a behavior modification specialist for 15 years. She has personal experience as well, as devoted mom to Clarke preschooler Autumn.
“Kim is a single mom who doesn’t miss a beat,” says Judy Sexton, director of Clarke Philadelphia. “She has the energy of the Eveready bunny—her neighbors call her Supermom. And she makes sure that Autumn is on her virtual classroom or speech therapy every day!”
For Kim—in addition to her routinely busy days—adjusting to the pandemic meant she needed to implement myriad steps and safeguards before both entering her workplace and her home.
“It’s been very scary,” says Kim. “I have to be very careful how I handle my work clothes when I come home. I freshen up before I hug and kiss my daughter, disinfect everything in my house, wash clothes more often than I normally do. And then I also have to be especially careful when I come to work, too, because my current client is in the last stage of COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]. So, it’s been very important that I take his health and safety seriously, too.”
In the midst of this, Clarke, like most schools, shifted its in-person programming and services to online platforms. That shift to remote learning created obstacles nationwide for so many families who rely on safe and reliable in-person academic programs while they’re at work.
“With all this happening, then we started online school for my daughter,” says Kim. “And sometimes it’s very difficult because I’ve had to leave her with a family member while I go to work. At times, it makes me feel bad, leaving her, and not being right there beside her, but I’m also thankful for the Clarke family.”
Kim shares that while it’s been challenging, Autumn has had fun seeing her friends and teachers online. “The children have breaks between classes and lessons, so Autumn has been able to ‘hang out’ with some of her friends. So that was very entertaining for her, and very, very helpful.”
Looking ahead, Kim shares how much they will miss Clarke when Autumn transitions to a mainstream school. “Everybody has always been willing to help and go the extra mile for me and my daughter—even before COVID-19,” she says. “I just appreciate every last one of you [on the Clarke team]. Clarke has been a big part of her foundation in life. And most of all, I love being able to enjoy longer conversations with my daughter.”