Coronavirus Update: April 2, 2020
Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the entire Cape Fear region for your outpouring of love, concern, and support, both financial and in-kind. Just as after Hurricane Florence, you have shown us the unwavering spirit of #WilmingtonStrong. We appreciate all of you who have reached out to us.
In order to achieve greater social distancing in our shelter, this week we moved a family and our female homeless guests to a local hotel. We continue to provide them food and case management off site. This reduction in shelter numbers allowed us to spread the men out among three dorms, a meeting room and even a portion of our dining room.
As of March 30, Good Shepherd is no longer taking new intakes.
Our volunteers, many of whom are in the high risk category, are staying at home and staff has filled in those roles as needed. We continue to work with our grocery partners and though amounts of donated food have been reduced, we are still providing three meals a day – hot and nutritious – to our shelter guests.
On March 16, we moved to a to-go option at lunch time for the greater community but have since been forced to suspend that activity, directing our more limited food supplies toward meals for the adults and children we are sheltering.
Anyone needing food or shelter is encouraged to call our main desk, 910-763-4424 x100 and we will try our best to offer alternative options.
We are continuing our stepped-up sanitizing and educational efforts around proper handwashing, wearing gloves and masks, using hand sanitizer, and encouraging some limited time outdoors.
To those who are asking, “what can I do, how can I help, what do you need?” our response first and foremost is, “thank you for asking!” We hope you will refer to our Wish List, which is updated regularly, and remember that financial donations in any amount are helpful as we incur unexpected and unbudgeted expenses.
We are working now to find alternative shelter for our women and families and will continue to update our website regularly to keep you informed. Do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns, but please remember we are working with limited staff and our priority is the safety and well-being of our homeless guests.
Thank you for your understanding and support.
MARCH 15, 2020
Good Shepherd is grateful for the outpouring of concern and support from so many of you around current and potential impact of the coronavirus on our work with the hungry and homeless. We are committed to continuing to respond to their needs to the best of our ability, while keeping guests, volunteers, and staff safe, and doing our part to slow the spread of any illness in our community.
As information and health authorities’ guidance concerning COVID-19 continue to be dynamic, we are closely monitoring the situation and making adjustments by the day and sometimes hour. We will endeavor to keep updates posted on our website, but wanted to share these with you now:
In keeping with some of the latest CDC guidance related to persons at greater risk of contracting the virus, we are asking that volunteers over the age of 60 or anyone of any age with a chronic medical condition–including heart disease, lung disease or diabetes–stay home and refrain from coming to volunteer until further notice. Additionally, if you or a loved one have traveled abroad, passed through high-risk areas, or are experiencing flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, or shortness of breath, we ask that you seek medical attention and refrain from coming to Good Shepherd for a minimum of two weeks. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our operation, and your safety and continued well-being are of the utmost importance to us.
Shelter and Residential Programs
Good Shepherd’s shelter operation continues. At present we are not turning away new intakes for shelter or for housing programs with vacancies. Homeless guests exhibiting flu or respiratory symptoms are being required to go to the ER for testing before returning with a diagnosis of flu, bronchitis, etc. Individuals testing positive for coronavirus will not be admitted entry out of concern for the many other men, women, and children who have sought refuge with us. Our guests have been responsive to our stepped-up sanitizing and educational efforts around proper handwashing and other preventative efforts, and so far are handling the added stress over coronavirus fairly well considering the considerable emotional strain they are already under as a result of their housing crisis.
Soup Kitchen and Food Programs
In an effort to facilitate increased social distancing, we are making some modifications to our usual processes. Effective Monday, March 16th, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be prepared and served in the dining room solely for homeless guests staying in our shelter. The Soup Kitchen will endeavor to continue serving the wider community at lunchtime, but rather than having those guests enter the building and be served in the dining room, a bag lunch or to-go option will be distributed outside the building. We hope to continue this so long as we have adequate supplies of food with which to prepare the lunches. Second Helpings food pick-ups will continue as long as possible, using a combination of reduced volunteer support and staff help. Pantry item food-giveaways and delivery of food boxes will be suspended for at least the next two weeks.
For the time being, we are asking that in-kind donations focus on current essentials: paper products, Gatorade, water, etc. rather than on clothing or other household items. (A revised Wish List will be posted on our website.)
As many of you know, we had to make the difficult decision to postpone Empty Bowls, originally slated for March 20th. If the current situation does not improve dramatically in the short term, it appears likely that our Golf Tournament and other significant fundraising activities planned for this Spring will also be postponed. While the potential financial impact on our operations is of course concerning, as in other times of community crisis our focus must remain on caring for our guests for the duration.
It is difficult to know the extent to which our community, and our vulnerable guests, will be impacted. We will continue to monitor the situation and prepare for the possibility of additional service disruption should the situation worsen significantly. We will work to keep you updated with information as it develops. Again, we thank you for your concern and support at a difficult time.
Katrina R. Knight, MSW