Big Bear Lake nonprofit offers virtual programs to families during coronavirus shutdown

This Big Bear Lake nonprofit has added teledentistry and virtual programming to help regional families.

When Megan Meadors, executive director of The Mom & Dad Project applied for the Annenberg Alchemy Tech program, she did not expect to be accepted. The six-month program teaches nonprofit leaders how to embrace technology, leverage it to build capacity and advance the organization’s mission.

Meador’s also did not anticipate how timely the training would be when she was given a spot in the program. The program required focusing on implementing a technology program and The Mom & Dad Project staff turned to telemedicine. The organization leveraged funding to invest in tech training for staff, to complete a digital strategy, and upgrade its computers and other hardware.

The Mom & Dad Project also obtained a virtual mobile unit for teledentistry as part of the Dental Transformation Initiative to improve dental health for children on Medi-Cal.

“A lot of times dentistry issues present as headaches and earaches, landing kids in the ER for lack of dental care,” Meadors said. “Whether it’s a lack of information or lack of access, a lot of kids are not getting to the dentist.”

When school is back in session, the mobile unit will be traveling to five schools, serving children who have been identified in their enrollment packet eligible for dental care. A registered hygienist and assistant will provide dental care and in tandem with a remote dentist who will review charts, views from an oral camera, and X-rays. Youth who have a major issue are then scheduled an appointment with a local dentist.

“We don’t see it happening on the time frame we had in our head,” Meadors said. “We’re still very hopeful that we will be able to do that in some fashion when everything settles down.”

While the timeline for the teledentistry program may be stalled, The Mom & Dad Project was poised to switch to online classes at the onset of the coronavirus shutdown. Free parenting and childbirth classes are at the core of the organization’s mission.

“Participating in parenting classes is something we all should be doing,” Meadors said. “You take tests and entrance exams for everything, but you have a baby and you are on your own. I wish our community would shift to understanding that it’s something everyone needs.”

The ability to offer virtual programming will remain an asset to the organization, but Meadors hopes that in-person programming will begin again soon. In the meantime, Mom & Dad Project has been providing board games and backpacks filled with activities for children as well as food and supplies through contactless drop-offs.

“We were established to reduce abuse and neglect with kids and when we can’t see them that’s a danger,” Meadors said. “To be able to bring a bit of normalcy and connection during this time has been huge for us.”

Recently, The Mom & Dad Project received a grant through the Inland Empire Funders Alliance Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation to support its operations during the pandemic. The organization remains a hub for connecting families in need to resources, even when the needs are as simple as being unable to find baby wipes. The Big Bear Community is resource poor, according to Meadors, and many families have struggled with the early shut down of the resorts and loss of employment.

“We need people to refer families looking for resources to us,” Meadors said. “Even if we can’t provide it directly, we can help them find the resource and a way to meet their needs.”

Information: momanddadproject.com or 909-878-2326

Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.