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A Community Coming Together

Laurel Sykes's picture

We’re going to shift our focus this week to potential relief and resources for assistance during this challenging time.  And let me start by saying this whole situation is nothing that anyone can be “expert” in.  Much of what is to come in today’s entry is a commentary on how things look today, which is a very different “normal” than just over a week ago, with some hopefully helpful resources thrown in along the way.  That said, at American Riviera Bank we are fortunate to have subject matter experts at all levels of the organization, including our Board of Directors, and they have prepared some resources and information for us to share with you throughout the weeks to come. 

Today, we wanted to share tips on remote work strategies as well as resources for food and services during this difficult time.  In a second post this afternoon, we also wanted to share some thoughts from one of our Board members on what is developing in the area of income tax relief.  We’ve put a lot of these resources on our COVID-19 page but we’ll be blogging daily to highlight certain topics.

Working Remotely

Employuee Work from Home Guide from HUB InternationalBefore I begin, I would first like to share my deepest gratitude with the Physicians, nurses, emergency responders, food service workers, interpreters, and the staff interacting with patients there on the frontline, fighting to save lives despite the personal risk involved.  We must all do our part to help, and stay home as ordered.

But in many cases remote work is simply not possible, as is the case for the many workers providing services essential to our communities.  Gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores and food delivery services, and banks continue to remain open to serve the community.

Those of us still fortunate enough to be working in jobs where remote access is possible are learning how to effectively juggle home life and work demands under the same roof.  Banking is an essential service, especially in times such as these, and many of our own employees have shifted to remote access to limit the number of people in our branches at a given time. 

There are many good tips for navigating these new waters – my favorite bit of advice is to think of it as if we are still commuting to work, the distance is just a lot shorter!

Children are out of school, likely through April, if not longer.  Children who don’t understand that while their parents are home, they are on-the-clock.  Parents are struggling with working from home as their children are home-schooling themselves, albeit with amazing resources put together by our local school districts, but not all children are old enough to independently carry out those lesson plans.  Many kids in our region are “out on spring break” this week, which places an even bigger burden on parents.  One thing is for certain, if any of us didn’t already see how hard our teachers work, they are now experiencing it first-hand.  

I’m fortunate to have a “tween” daughter who is able to help her younger sister log onto the computer for daily videos from her teacher to explain the day’s assignments.  I’ve never been more proud as a parent than to see how dedicated my girls are to their education, but I realize that not all families have access to the same resources.  Schools have done surveys and found that there simply aren’t enough computers and/or devices at home, especially given that parents working remotely may be using the sole family computer.  But our school districts have been amazing – offering to provide devices to those who need them, developing remote learning curriculum almost overnight, and making sure that children who relied on the free lunch program at school and camp for access to healthy food can still pick up meals at their local schools.  Resources have also been provided online for learning at home. We will be highlighting many of these resources over the next couple of days, so please check back in.

Resources and Support

On the flip side, as many are learning how to navigate a remote work environment there are still many others who have worked multiple jobs to afford the high cost of living on the Central Coast.  Due to Shelter in Place orders one, two, or even all of those jobs have been eliminated as businesses have been shut down.   Restaurant owners or self-employed businesses have been forced to shut their doors or change their business model and are struggling with tough choices about their staff.  Below are several resources available in our communities.

  • VNA Health COVID-19 Designated Shopping Time for Seniors & ImmunosuppressedVNA Health has compiled a list of special shopping hours for seniors and immunosuppressed.  The County of San Luis Obispo’s no-cost Food and Medication Resource Plan is delivering food and prescription medication for seniors or those with chronic medical conditions.
  • The Foodbank is also offering food at distribution centers in SB and Ventura County.
  • For local businesses, the Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board just put out a guide that includes steps businesses can take now to leverage available resources.  They have also established an email address at for businesses that have experienced disruptions in their business, or who have general concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.

As we navigate through these uncertain times, we will continue to provide you with as many resources as we can. In the meantime, check back in later today to learn more about tax relief!