Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington has served our community for over 100 years. We have steadily served together through world wars, presidential assassinations and political upheavals, natural disasters and economic crises, times when we felt like the world as we knew it was ending.
Now in this time of uncertainty with COVID-19 we are all faced with the unknown. And no one is more afraid or more effected than the poor and vulnerable seniors, families and individuals that we serve. But now is not the time for us to sit on the sidelines. We have a sacred obligation and duty to continue our work, with courage and compassion, even in this time of global pandemic.
For our fragile seniors that feel the threat of infection and isolation, we are providing guidance from the Spokane Regional Health District and increased sanitization of our 1300+ supportive housing communities. We have implemented the Senior Citizen Friendly Chat program and the Shopping Angels program, so elderly individuals have proper nutrition and feel cared for and connected.
We know that some of our most vulnerable clients during COVID-19 are the families and individuals experiencing homelessness, which is why we have detailed protocols in place at our shelters from our experience with the norovirus outbreak. Staff throughout the 13 counties Catholic Charities serves are prepared to work within the House of Charity, Rising Strong family shelters, St. Margaret’s Shelter and The LOFT Teen Shelter in Walla Walla in order to maintain uninterrupted essential services.
As we have expanded our permanent supportive housing communities, we have built specially equipped quarantine rooms in the event of an outbreak such as COVID-19. We will now be able to continue to shelter the individuals experiencing homelessness should they become ill. We will continue to work with our community partners at area Regional Health Districts so we can compassionately serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness when they are sick and afraid.
To maintain social distancing guidelines the Women’s Sleeping Program has re-located from the House of Charity into common spaces at Donna Hansen Haven and Jacklin Haven. The Men’s Sleeping Program has increased distances to 6’ and individuals are sleeping 50 per room. At all Catholic Charities shelters, staff are implementing increased distancing, cleaning and sanitation practices.
Many of our clients are worried about food security and have seen the stories in the media about panic buying groceries and supplies, which they don’t have the funds or the ability to do. We are fortunate to have many community partners that support our programs food pantries, such as Second Harvest Food Bank. Providence supplies food to the House of Charity as well as two additional property sites. The Women’s & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen donated frozen meals to Rising Strong, our warming center and other shelters. And we are blessed by the continued support of area Catholic schools and parishes that donate non-perishable food and items we include in sack lunches at the House of Charity.
All of this could not be done without our heroic staff that work tirelessly with open hearts and minds, often creatively finding solutions to challenges we never fathomed we would face. As we encounter each new day, we put forth every effort to ensure our clients know we are here for them. We will always answer the call to serve.
For more information on how Catholic Charities Eastern Washington is responding to COVID-19 and how you can help visit https://www.cceasternwa.org/covid-19.