Our emergency shelter relies heavily on volunteers—more than 700 volunteers from 25 congregations supported the Interfaith Hospitality Network last year! In normal times, families in shelter sleep at a host congregation for a month at a time, with meals and transportation provided by volunteers. But these are not normal times, so we are adapting to keep our volunteers and guests safe.
Since March, we have taken proactive steps to prevent the transmission of coronavirus, with increased cleaning, social distancing, masks, limiting donations, and restricting visitors. No resident has contracted the virus while in our programs, but we are ready to respond if they do. And after many conversations with our partners, we’ve implemented a reasonable, safe plan to resume emergency shelter with minimal contact and valuable volunteer support.
Referrals from Your Way Home, Montgomery County’s centralized intake for emergency shelter, continue. When a new family arrives at Inter-Faith, we offer them safe accommodation at our Day Center at Hope Gardens, where they quarantine for 14 days. During that time, case management is conducted virtually and basic needs (food, personal care items, etc.) are provided. After this self-isolation, the family moves to a local church that has offered space, allowing us to bring in another family to the Day Center.
Inter-Faith staff is managing online signups for evening meals; volunteers bring the meals to the office with contact-free drop off. We’re also sharing the families’ needs with host and support congregations. Congregations want to help!
Last month Gwynedd Friends supported our Network families with meals and other essentials. At Zion Baptist Church, August is “Inter-Faith Housing Alliance Month.” Members are bringing meals, collecting cleaning products, and donating grocery gift cards.
We are staying the course, focusing on the children and families experiencing homelessness here in our community. If you have resources for affordable apartments in Montgomery County, please contact Sue Zomberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-606-3421.
Thank you for being the key to changing the lives of the children and families who come to us for help!