At first, we had concerns about how necessary safety changes for COVID 19 would affect our cornerstone sense of community. We didn’t need to worry. Through the confusion and ever changing updates, we have seen that food insecurity is a relevant issue now more than ever and our community has adapted to fill that growing need. We have limited our volunteer capacity to one or two members at a time to help with cooking and our two staff members solely manage distributing food and supplies while taking all medical precautions.
Since we entered a shelter in place mandate, Care for Friends has been overwhelmed by a wealth of support. There are a multitude of ways we have continued to provide for our guests and uphold a sense of community in the time of COVID 19. Our school partners were the first to reach out to find out what our needs are during these uncertain times. Oscar Mayer School has been incredible in providing uplifting artwork to include with the bagged lunches for our guests. Boosting morale is so important right now. In fact, an Oscar Mayer family inspired our newest, secure volunteer opportunity by cooking hot meals as a family to donate. They delivered the food right to our doorstep so our small team could heat and plate the meals to be handed out. It’s really special to be able to distribute home cooked, hot meals made with positive intention and love.
Beginning in the middle of March, we saw a rise in the number of guests, living on the street who receive meals, increase from 40 to 65 people. There are so many forms that homelessness can take but living on the streets is especially dangerous right now. Many of the newer guests are rarely afforded the opportunity to share a hot meal with other people. We have incorporated ways to continue meeting social distancing standards, while allowing our guests to sit six feet apart in our parking lot to enjoy a nutritious meal made with care. This interaction is a supportive structure for people without a permanent home. The guests drink revitalizing coffee and share bountiful stories, passing news by word of mouth; murmuring about conspiracy theories, the newest strategies to keep safe, and recalling memories from our dining hall.
For years, Care for Friends has been a safe haven for guests to escape harassment and feel safe knowing there is a place to visit where they belong. This is at the forefront of our minds as the places our guests would normally go to clean up or rest are closing and unavailable. Transit is no longer a safe enough place to stay, so basking in the sun in our lot is a peaceful period we are able to give because our guests are deserving of safety and security. No person should be left behind during a crisis. With the ongoing support from our expanding community, we are able to provide essentials and create an environment where all are welcomed with dignity and respect.
We cannot continue our important work without generous and compassionate people like you! You can donate through our website or reach out to support our volunteer efforts by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.