As COVID-19 wreaked havoc on in-person plans throughout the spring and summer, the team at Ken Anderson Alliance (KAA) tran- sitioned the programs for their adults with developmental disabilities to virtual experiences, many via Zoom meetings. Though participants appreciated the chance to still be able to connect on some level — and as we have all discovered — it just wasn’t the same for people with disabilities who are often stuck at home because of service providers, appointments, or the fact that they are an at-risk population. Given that they don’t typically get out into the community a great deal, they really look forward to their twice-a-month outings where they can integrate into the community via partnerships and activities.

“Having to stay in these past few months has had a pretty profound impact on their mental health,” says Kevin Potts, KAA’s executive director. “Being stuck inside causes feelings of increased isolation and abandonment. Plus, the occurrence of depression and other mental health disorders goes up 400 percent during this type of crisis.”

They have not been getting the social interaction they need and because they have limited access to technology, they can’t just hop on Facetime whenever they want. Nor can they necessarily order takeout for a treat because many have sustained a job loss or pay cut.

Currently, KAA has 220 individuals enrolled in their program. “Let’s presume that only 50 percent of the population is affected.

That’s 110 people in our program alone,” says Potts. “That’s huge!”

Community members can sign up for KAA’s newsletter and/or mailing list to receive poignant messages from adults with develop- mental disabilities who speak about how COVID-19 has personally affected them.

Over the summer, KAA assembled and mailed safety kits that included masks, hand sanitizer, hand soap, and instructions — a project that cost between $5,000-$7,000, including postage. Add to that the fact that the nonprofit is $200,000 below revenue for the year.

“The pandemic impacts the organization, which, in turn, im- pacts the services we can provide to the adults,” says Potts. While KAA remains committed to cre- ating a community where adults with developmental disabilities can realize their full potential in a safe, affordable, caring, integrat- ed, supportive environment, the pandemic has certainly made it more difficult for the organization to carry out their mission. There- fore, they would greatly appreciate donations of any size.

“Recurring monthly donations of $10 or $25 are wonderful,” says Potts. “These smaller donations don’t impact people as greatly out of their pocket and yet they add up over time and help us expand our resources and services.”

Potts points out that even during the coronavirus crisis, they have employed adults with disabilities to grow lettuce that is then donated to food banks to help feed people in need.

“It’s bringing it full circle as your donation not only helps services but is also giving back to those most needy in the community,” says Potts.

Ken Anderson Alliance is located at 11260 Chester Road, Suite 280, Cincinnati, OH 45246. For more information, call 513.813.8321 or email info@kenandersonalliance.org. To make a donation, click on the “giving” tab at www.kenandersonalliance.org.