COVID-19 UPDATE & HOW YOU CAN HELP
We are moved and grateful to our community for all your support during this difficult time – THANK YOU!
We are doing our best to keep our programs operating to protect our most vulnerable neighbors during the pandemic, and to reduce the impact on hospitals and first-responders.
NEW UPDATE (6/25):
In our last update we shared the heroic efforts of our frontline staff to keep everyone safe, the overwhelming support from the community in helping with our food and supply needs and our efforts to relocate our shelter guests to other locations to practice social distancing.
The relocation efforts continue as we just moved more of the single women in our program temporarily to the county owned homes on Ruth Davis Drive. We were able to move the single men that were temporarily living in the county building across the shelter parking lot back into the shelter. Our Warming Center has closed after a two month extension as a result of COVID, serving 210 unduplicated people.
Our staff worked tirelessly to ensure all the proper protocols were in place to provide maximize safety for our shelter guests, volunteers, and staff during this health crisis. The efforts paid off. During the height of the outbreak, the shelter had only 3 total COVID cases between March and May, none of which were related to the other. And thankfully all have recovered.
More good news. Despite the crisis we still had some successful outcomes. We are proud to share 33 people moved from our programs into independent housing. And we have 30 families utilizing our Supportive Housing Outreach Program which helps families avoid cycling back into homelessness.
As the state is beginning to re-open, we are ready for our regular cooking volunteers to come back and cook at the shelter again. We are limited to 3 people in the kitchen at a time, and masks are a must. We have open cooking slots which is rare at HSI, so first time cooking volunteers are definitely welcome!
It has been a long 15 weeks but we can’t thank our volunteers and donors enough for all their support to help us get through this difficult time. It’s not over yet but knowing we have this extraordinary community alongside us provides the strength to keep moving forward.
Interested in cooking or providing a catered meal at the shelter?
(NOTE:) Unfortunately, Amazon does not share who makes purchases from our list, so please reach out to LaceyAstrella@hsinj.org or leave a note in your purchase so that we can acknowledge your generosity. We love to thank our donors!
We are certainly in this together and appreciate the support from the community to help us during this time. We know that the COVID-19 crisis has impacted each of you too, and we hope that you and your loved ones have been able to stay safe throughout this incredibly challenging time.
To learn how you can help contact: Lacey Astrella
NEW UPDATE (4/18):
There are a few updates to share since we sent our last communication a few weeks ago. It may be obvious but it’s worth stating that we are still OPEN! Our shelter remains open and continues to operate 24/7.
Here are some noteworthy things to share:
OUR HEROIC FRONTLINE STAFF: We have great admiration and gratitude for this special group of co-workers. We are short on staff as many employees need to stay home to care for their own children or because they are at high risk for the virus. We are fortunate to have a small but mighty team working incredibly hard to make sure our shelter guests are fed, housed, and feel safe. Some are working double shifts; 16 hours at a time and one employee clocked 28 days straight. It’s a physically and emotionally demanding job but they do it because they care so much. You can imagine the toll this crisis has taken on our shelter guests. The worries of a pandemic on top of dealing with the trauma of being homeless is exceptionally distressing. This in turn puts a strain on our frontline staff BUT they continue to come to work every day and give 110%. They are our heroes!
FOOD: We suspect you all are having your own challenges trying to keep your families fed. Imagine a house of almost 80 people! It has been a struggle but the community has really pulled together to help and we are grateful. We have lunches and dinners scheduled until the end of the month and a dedicated group of volunteers helping to serve (see the shout out to that special group below!)
MOVE OUT’S: COVID-19 has pivoted our normal focus of “a hand up, not a handout” to just doing our best to help our guests shelter-in-place safely and maintain a positive attitude while so much is at a standstill as we all "flatten the curve". Despite the challenges, we are pleased to share that we helped two households move out into permanent housing. The Wilson Family moved from our shelter to our Transitional Housing Program and Frank from our Single Men’s Program will be moving into one of HSI’s affordable housing properties. The good news continues as we expect to have two more families move out in the next few weeks.
NEEDS: We continue to run low on hard to find personal protective equipment like gloves, N95 masks, sanitizer and no contact thermometers.
As of Monday morning (3/23), 12 guests from our Single Men’s program and 18 Warming Center guests were moved to the vacant building near our current Shelter. The goal was to make more space and adhere to the 6 feet rule. In the current set up these guests were sleeping in bunk beds. The Warming Center guests beds were too close and there was not as much space in the area for social distancing. The new space at 560 (across the parking lot from the shelter) is significantly larger. Instead of 12 men in one room and 6 women in another, that same number of people are spread throughout six or seven rooms of varying sizes. Some are even in their own small room. We are grateful to Morris County for providing the space and to Morris Habitat’s ReStore for providing some gently used furniture.
Please note we are updating our needs list and Amazon Wish list on a daily basis.
Thank you for your help!
Normally, guests staying in our 85 bed 24/7, 365 days a year, facility are NOT permitted to stay in the shelter during the day. Folks are out working or looking for work, utilizing community resources. Shelter guests will now be permitted, and encouraged (unless they are going to work), to remain in the shelter during the day. We are struggling to maintain staffing as employees need to care for their kids or avoid getting sick themselves.
All non-essential volunteer activities (parties, babysitting, programs and training, etc.) have been suspended indefinitely.
With guests encouraged to stay at the shelter, and children having to do virtual learning, we are now having to provide lunch to everyone at the shelter for the foreseeable future.
Not surprisingly many of our volunteer groups who purchase, cook and serve dinner each night have been canceling. This has caused a much greater demand for food.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Join us in the hunt for supplies and check out our Amazon Urgent Needs List. We are in need of:
- Visa Gift Cards
- Stop&Shop Gift Cards
- ACME (Morris Plains) Gift Cards
- Shoprite Gift Cards
- UBER Gift Cards
- Powdered Laundry Detergent
- Baby Wipes
- Disposable Gloves
- Enfamil Formula (Prosobee Soy, Gentlease, Soy)
- Love & Care Formula (Gentle, Infant, Advantage)
- Diapers Size 5
- Liquid Hand Soap
- Hand Sanitizer
- Lysol Disinfectant Spray
- Lysol Wipes
- Shower Curtains & Liners
- Salt & Pepper Packets
- Tea Bags
- Non-Dairy Creamer
- Flavored Oatmeal Packets
- Cold Cereal
- Protein Bars (Breakfast Bar/Granola Bar/Pop-Tarts)
- Disposable Cutlery
- Paper Plates
- Paper Towels
- Toilet Paper
Order Shoprite Gift Cards online and have them mailed to the shelter:
Ship to Address:
Homeless Solutions, Inc.
540 West Hanover Ave., Suite 100
Morristown, NJ 07960
Come assist staff by serving a meal for Lunch or Dinner
TO MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO HELP:
Please contact Volunteer Manager, Tamala Reynolds at TamalaReynolds@hsinj.org . She will be delighted to hear from you!
Make a donation to help HSI protect our most vulnerable neighbors during this challenging time
Please know we are working through this continually evolving situation keeping the safety and well-being of our shelter guests, dedicated staff, and volunteers in mind at every turn.
We can’t thank you enough for your support as we all work to get through this trying time.