Built on a promise of protection and safety, Elmcrest maintains that mindset amidst COVID-19

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — What may be one of the invisible impacts of the coronavirus pandemic — staff at the Elmcrest Children’s Center silently working amidst a closed campus to their impact is still strong.

“These kids are coming to us after years and years and years of failure. Many of them have been in and out of the foster care system for their entire lives,” said Executive Director Joseph Geglia.

At Elmcrest, children find new ways of living but now, even the staff is learning to adapt. “The distance learning has been a challenge but the kids are doing great,” said Geglia.

Children still have school and therapy virtually, but one of the other challenges for the staff is making sure these kids stay connected to their families.

There are families that because of this have not been able to hug their children, have not been able to see them, and talk to them and comfort them.

Allison Spaulding, Director of Residential and Community Based Operations

The staff is making up for it by scheduling video chats, letting kids play outside when the weather is nice, and making sure their routine stays as close to routine as possible.

“They have a full day in which they’re really set up for school activities but we’re implementing some fun activities as well to make sure there’s a little light and fun in their day,” said Spaulding.

The idea is to keep a sense of support, comfort, and maintain their mission to give these kids that home away from home.

“This is just what we do every day,” said Geglia. Now, they just do it a little differently.

Elmcrest will be celebrating its 175 anniversary on Sunday. It was founded in the 1800s by a group of churchwomen who opened an orphanage for forgotten children. Its doors opened on May 10, 1845, to 10 boys and five girls.

A passage from the Syracuse Orphans’ Asylum’s first annual report

It was built on a promise of protection and safety, a mindset the campus still has today, maybe now more than ever.


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