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Tuesday morning, our regular winter shelter season closed. This is always such a difficult time for our program participants and an emotional pull for our staffing team. We’re grateful to our community, financial donors and hosting locations for the 109 nights of shelter and hot meals our men, women and families received throughout this year’s winter months.
As a social service agency providing emergency shelter, daytime resources and housing assistance to some of the most COVID-vulnerable populations, we are working tirelessly to balance the need for enhanced services while doing everything we can to reduce risk for our participants and staff. In doing this, we must balance the pool of resources available to us while creating the best possible service model in these uncertain times. Our needed resources are three-fold: adequate funding, a heightened staffing model and appropriate sites/policies that uphold current COVID-related guidelines. We are a small grassroots agency trying to meet a massive need. As such, much of this COVID-19 season has become about "creative prioritization.”
Here’s what we know:
A large percentage of the folks we serve already suffer from chronic health problems. This leaves them extremely vulnerable to heightened effects of COVID-19.
Our participants have no way to shelter-in-place, so we need to prioritize our most vulnerable population, get them indoors and provide for their needs from there. As direct service providers, we need to prepare for a reduction in staffing as our team either becomes symptomatic or too overwhelmed by what may lie ahead.
We need to prepare for the long-haul and a substantial rise in need, which means spreading resources further than we had originally expected.
Here’s how we’re responding:
We’re in daily communication with King County to ensure we’re upholding the highest standards of COVID-related care we can and have implemented an intensive sanitation protocol to reduce exposure for our participants and staff.
We’re placed a hold on outside clothing donations and the majority of our volunteer assistance.
Our daytime services are now open every day from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Services include pre-packaged/self-serve foods/drinks, laundry & shower facilities, assistance accessing healthcare/insurance/cell phones and bus tickets.
We have placed a Port-a-Pot and hand washing station outside of our Resource Center to assist with a rise in clientele and provide public access as our community restrooms temporarily close.
We are prioritizing our most COVID-vulnerable folks and placing them in individual motel rooms in order to reduce their exposure.
We are also creating an outreach model to provide on-site support and regular visits.
We’re doing our best to ensure every participant has immediate access to a cell phone in case they become symptomatic or need other assistance. We’re gearing up our less-vulnerable folks to camp independently in order to reduce exposure via encampments.
Here’s how you can help:
We receive daily calls and emails from community members wanting to know how they can help. It’s amazing to see the outpouring of care that continues regardless of what you all may be experiencing in your own lives.
We need enhanced financial resources as we work to meet overwhelming demands during these unprecedented times. We’re grateful to everyone who has already provided a monetary donation and ask that you spread the word to friends and family.
I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for continuing to prioritize the needs of our vulnerable population while you, also, experience massive shifts and uncertainty in your personal and professional lives. I wish you all good health and peace as we navigate this together...as the incredible community we are.
With every ounce of gratitude,
Jennifer KirkExecutive Director