Update In Light of COVID-19 Pandemic
March 18, 2020
Dear Hands On Hartford volunteers, donors and friends,
We have seen an incredible outpouring of support for the most vulnerable folks in our community over the past several days. Thank you all for reaching out with such generosity. We know how much you care about our Hartford neighbors and coming together and acting in solidarity has great impact.
We all know that as a community we are facing a really challenging situation with the Coronavirus. Being cautious and aware and adjusting our normal lives to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is vital. We know that we’re not alone in feeling trepidation in these uncertain times.
We also know how much we’ve experienced at Hands On Hartford/Center City Churches over the past 51 years and how often we’ve come together during difficult and tumultuous times to serve our community. And that’s exactly what we will do during this crisis as well. COVID- 19 is especially difficult for low income folks, tenants with complex health issues and people who are homeless, and they need us now more than ever.
After careful consideration we’ve determined the following, that will likely be adjusted as we go over the upcoming weeks. For now we will focus on the following:
Cleanliness and Social-Distancing:
- Increased cleaning and sanitizing of all common area surfaces multiple times a day. Increased hand hygiene and hand hygiene education
- Educate staff, volunteers, guests, customers, tenants and clients about COVID-19 and ways to protect oneself and the community
- Encourage staff, volunteers, customers, vendors, guests to stay home when ill or if they’ve been exposed to anyone who has or is thought to have the Coronavirus
Programs and Services:
- MANNA Community Pantry: The pantry is open. Groceries will be packed prior to pantry visits, individually modified with the meat, milk, eggs and produce as guests arrive, and handed out at the door
- Kitchen to Pantry: suspended for the next several weeks.
- Backpack Nutrition Program: suspended for now due to the schools being closed. Families are encouraged to use our Pantry and we are expecting an increase in need for pantry assistance.
- Neighborhood Services: We will continue to see folks in need of utility assistance, referrals and the like, but a distance of at least six feet will be maintained between the parties
- Housing Services: Staff will continue to provide 24/7 supportive housing services, by phone as much as possible, maintain a distance of at least six feet when seeing tenants, and be provided cleaner and hand sanitizer when they go into the community or for a home visit.
- Community Meals Day Program: We will operate out of 55 Bartholomew Avenue beginning this Wednesday March 18th. This is an important program for folks who are challenged to find safe places to be in the current environment. Guests will be strongly encouraged to sit six feet apart and the number of guests in house at one time will be limited. Surfaces and restrooms will be cleaned multiple times each hour. Screening protocols will be put into place such that anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone thought to have the Coronavirus will be directed to see medical testing and attention.
- Catering and The Café at Fifty-Five: The Café will serve take-out orders only during regular hours, 7:30am-2:30pm, Tuesday – Friday. Catering is available although orders will decrease dramatically.
- Easter and Memorial Day Community Meals: We will be assessing the feasibility of providing these meals in coming weeks and will keep the community updated.
- Walk Against Hunger: We will keep you updated as to Foodshare’s decisions about this event. We have always encouraged “spirit walkers” to participate event when they are not able to attend the Walk. We hope that in the likely event that the Walk is not feasible as an in-person event, you will continue to do the good work of raising funds and awareness about hunger and food insecurity in our community – now more than ever, we need your help!
- Other meetings: We plan to conduct all meetings by phone to the greatest extent possible, and encourage social distancing at all in-person meetings.
Volunteers: While we welcome volunteers at all of our programs, we understand that folks may not be prepared and may not be able to offer volunteer assistance at this time. Volunteers who are ill, who have symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to the Coronavirus should hold their own health and the health of those they come into contact with as a top priority, stay home, stay safe and seek medical attention. For information on volunteering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
How You Can Help: Some folks have asked us already how they can help. Here are a few ideas: (feel free to spread the word – we will too)
- Donate hand sanitizer (large or small) or COVID-19 approved cleaning products (Lysol, disposable gloves, paper towels, hand sanitizer),
- Donate toilet paper for our pantry and guests
- Make a financial donation to help us pay for increased levels of staff due to lack of volunteers and team member absences and also to obtain increased food and supplies as we see an uptick in community needs [donate online here]
If you have questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We will update this information as things change and you can reach us by contacting our Executive Director, Barbara A. Shaw at email@example.com.
In coming days and weeks, we will focus on being careful, kind, and compassionate with each other during this challenging time. Please know how very much your work and care and support mean to all of us and to our neighbors, and how very grateful we are that you are part of the Hands On Hartford Team.