Jeffrey Bailey, one of Agassiz Village’s many beloved alumni, is on the front lines helping those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the Statewide Director of the Social Services Department for The Salvation Army. Jeff’s story at Agassiz started as a camper for 6 years and as his love for the camp grew, he then became a staff member for an additional 6 years. The Bailey legacy at Agassiz Village continues as his children now return to camp as participants and staff members themselves.
Currently, Jeff oversees 32 food pantries, 3 shelters, 6 childcare centers, and various programs that are geared toward assisting those in crisis throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As COVID-19 continues to impact more individuals and communities in the Commonwealth, The Salvation Army Social Services Department and their valued caseworkers are continuing their efforts with promotive, preventative, and treatment services to ensure the health and wellbeing of the people they serve. In the communities Jeff serves, he and his team provide assistance to many individuals who are infected and housed in state-provided hotels and in their two main shelters. They work tirelessly to provide sustenance for essential workers and ensure that they have access to necessary services, so that they may conduct their work without concern for utility cut-offs or accessibility to healthy meals.
As COVID-19 cases have swept across his 32 Corps and 220 Service Extension communities in recent weeks, business and school closures, and widespread layoffs have driven an unprecedented surge in need for financial assistance. People are turning to their community-based Social Services programs in ever higher numbers for help with food, rent, and utility assistance. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Jeff and his team had started identifying how best to achieve their goals of meeting their clients’ basic needs and how best to work systematically to address those needs through community-level responses, as well as developing their role to help mitigate a surge in long-term population health. As schools and childcare centers were suspended by order of the Governor, Jeff made a conscious decision to alter key programs to convert them into feeding hubs. He and his team made food boxes for distribution to not only affected communities, but also to help support other understaffed Corps that had less manpower. Although it’s been extremely hard for the children and families in his network to be quarantined, Jeff continues to reach out to them via daily ZOOM classes and supporting their security by regularly dropping off essential food items and providing needed resources.
Jeff and his staff are truly in the trenches, and even though numerous buildings are closed due to the stay-at-home order, with social distancing in mind, he continues to safely staff their programs, provides remote counseling, and organizes ways to overcome isolation on a daily basis. In communities hit particularly hard with rising numbers of positive COVID-19 cases like Brockton, Chelsea, Lowell, Lynn, Springfield, and the Greater Boston area, Jeff and his workers are not only passing out meals, but also emotional and spiritual care, as well as fervently distributing factual information to dispel myths and fears. They also continue to reach out to agencies to assist with preparedness, develop inclusive planning efforts, and advocate to the government for increased support.
As Jeff reflected on the impact that Agassiz has made in his life, he shared these kind words with us: “As you can see, it is important for me to be on the front line caring for others. I learned this style of care and compassion from my many years at Agassiz Village, through staff who were my first mentors and guides like Carlos and Leslie Hoyt, Theresa O’Bryant, and Rick Glynn, to campers I have been friends with for over 40 years such as Ellen Corbett, Susan Hauck, and Chris Green, to compassionate individuals from more recent times, such as Ash Bahi, Libby Masalsky, Liam Bell, and Valerie Galvao who currently inspire my children to be the best they can be and to love that small slice of Heaven on Lake Thompson, Maine as much as I do and more.”
From the whole Agassiz family, thank you for all of the incredible work you do, Jeff! We are so proud to have you as a member of this Village!