Frederick Community Events

URGENT REQUEST FROM
RELIGIOUS COALITION OF FREDERICK
 
3/13/2020

Good afternoon friends, 

Through this uncertain and unprecedented time The Religious Coalition faces an additional complexity for those we serve. As you may know, The Coalition is the largest shelter provider in the county, and because of that we also have more people regularly in communal sleeping areas than in ANY other organization or shelter in the area. This presents an extraordinary challenge. 

Although some guidance from the CDC has come in, there aren’t a lot of specifics for how to manage a population as complex and in-need as that of our homeless residents. Given the close proximity to each other and the variety of preexisting health issues, we must act quickly and comprehensively to address the needs of the homeless and most-vulnerable. 

To that end, we are engaging in continual conversations with health officials and partner shelter providers to put together the best plan as is possible. Our mantra follows many others: “Don’t panic, but don’t take this issue lightly.” 

I’m emailing you today to ask for your help. Because this virus defies convention, we must plan unconventionally. We are seeking help with supplies, people to provide transportation, and volunteers to assist shelter operations. Because a potential “lock down” looms, and given that few have experienced this before, we are unsure of what to expect. So the best we can do is prepare for as many realities as we can. 

Supplies:

We know supplies are at a premium, but we are asking for any considerations that you or your congregations may have by way of protective equipment. Gloves, masks, and bleach top the list, but we will happy to receive any supplies that you can afford to spare. Water, noodle cups, and hygiene supplies may also become a need when/if a shelter in place order is given. 

Our staff and volunteers will be on one of the many front lines of this crisis, and you all may know certain items cannot be ordered. Your considerations for supply help are immensely appreciated. 

Volunteers:

We are working with local officials to bring together a process by which any homeless clients who test positive for the illness are provided an isolated space. This will have a significant impact on transmission if we are able to segregate positive cases from the majority of the homeless population. 

We are additionally asking/seeking alternate spaces, whether in partner hotels and/or congregations who’d be willing to house a segment of the healthy population, or  congregational spaces or hotels that’d be willing to house ill residents. 

In this light, we are seeking volunteers who’d be willing to help on a night-to-night basis outside of the normally scheduled volunteers, with individual shelter operations or with the transportation logistics to get healthy residents to accepting locations. 

Please note that if you or your congregations are currently volunteering at the Individual or Family shelters, please reach out to Kavonte Duckett, Emergency Shelter Director at 301.473.2743 or at kduckett@rcehn.org or Neil Donnelly, Emergency Family Shelter Director at 240.271.2150 or ndonnelly@rcehn.org. We will likely be altering the normal volunteering time frames and roles, so please make contact for more information. We will be sending some of this same information digitally to our volunteers, but we want to make sure we reach everyone. 

Unconventional is what we do well, but this is new territory. The plan and our actions are subject to sudden changes as the issue evolves. We humbly ask that if ever there was a desire to help this Coalition, we need it now more than ever. 

We also ask that you distribute this message throughout your congregation and share with colleagues, networks, faith leaders and partners. While this message will go out to 200+ of our partners, we certainly appreciate if you’d widely share the need. 

If anyone is interested in assisting efforts, please reach out to me either by email at nbrown@rcehn.org or directly by cell at 240.344.3723 and I’m reachable, if not in meetings, at any time of the day. 

I thank you all for the support you’ve given The Coalition in the past and look forward to our partnerships in the future. I wish you all a safe journey through this uncertain time. 

Be safe,

Nick Brown, Executive Director

Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs