Having the Heart for Service

Coronavirus and its lethal economic repercussions have impacted every household in the United States. The adoption of social distancing, remote learning and working, and self-quarantining has disrupted the lives of many Americans.

However, Family Service of Rhode Island’s Be Safe campaign has taken enormous strides in the past three months in helping families across Rhode Island get access to food, cleaning supplies, masks, and more with the Be Safe kits. The campaign allows any family in Rhode Island to apply for a kit and, after confirming delivery details, they will be able to receive Be Safe deliveries. With over 15,000 kit recipients and statewide deliveries, Akabra Hodge coordinates the deliveries alongside teams of volunteers each week. Akabra is the Program Coordinator for Family, Coaching, and Visitation and SafeCare. At FCV, she primarily handles the administrative duties and supervision of the FCV transportation staff. Specifically, she handles all staff emergency requests for fulfilling food insecurities at an expedited rate. At FSRI, Akabra uses her administrative knowledge to coordinator delivery schedules and Geomap the routes through Google Maps. Akabra has been a part of the Be Safe team since its beginning in mid-March, and she’s helped the program grow exponentially.

“Since the onset of Covid-19, we have seen the economic impacts from the virus. Individuals and families across every socio-economic class have been impacted. We have seen jobs lost, unemployment benefits held up, supermarket shelves stripped bare, and households just didn’t have the means to get the basics that they needed. FSRI saw this and responded. If you need or want a Be Safe Kit, you can have one delivered to you. It doesn’t matter where in RI you live or how much money you have,” she notes.

As the program grows from Be Safe to Be Safe Plus, the statewide impact of the kits is evident. Be Safe started with a small demographic area, but as the intensity of the virus grew, the demand for the kits followed. The campaign became more complex and, with the help of FSRI’s partners, the kits soon reached all ends of Rhode Island. Without people like Akabra, working tirelessly to assist and expand the program, many households would be without necessary supplies.

Down to the individual deliveries, Akabra has put in great time and effort on all fronts of the Be Safe campaign. Each delivery route consists of kits for 20-25 households over four hours, a lengthy workout, but Akabra says the gratitude from the recipients makes the journey worth it. Knowing she has helped a family in need in the middle of a global pandemic stay safe and healthy keeps Akabra hopeful that she is not alone.

“Even though Be Safe/Be Safe Plus requires a lot of heavy lifting, it’s not hard when you have a heart for service. It can be hard for some people to ask for help, even though they may really need it. I made a delivery one day, I called to let the person know I had dropped off their kit. I waited in the van for her to come out because we can’t have contact. When the young lady came to the door, she was on crutches. She had tears of gratitude in her eyes and stated how grateful she was. I wanted to stay and speak to her but I had more deliveries to do. But she is just one of the examples of why I love being a part of this campaign,” she adds

If you or a loved one may need a Be Safe kit, please visit https://www.familyserviceri.org/besafe to learn more.