Homeless shelter workers on the front line

Facilities must remain open for services during COVID-19 pandemic
March 19, 2020

The Crisis House in Georgetown, like other homeless shelters, has workers who are on the front lines of the current COVID-19 pandemic as they provide needed services.

“We have to remain open 24/7,” said Executive Director Marie Morole. “This population is still in need. We aren't a medical facility, and our workers don't have medical training, yet they are dealing with a risky population and putting themselves at risk.”

Currently, there are eight homeless people – two women and six men – living at the shelter. Morole said the shelter can house up to 14 people. “We are going to keep who we have with no one exiting and no new people in,” she said.

She said four of the men work at a local poultry-processing plant. “It's scary because you don't know who they are coming into contact with,” she said.

Many of the normal services the center offers are on hold as offices close or have restrictions in place. “We can't make many referrals. Right now we are trying to maintain the status quo, keep everyone safe and provide a place to stay,” Morole said.

Morole said some of the residents already have health issues. “We tell them not to go out, and if they do, to stay away from groups,” she said.

She said the current residents have been conscientious and even help with constant cleaning at the shelter.

Morole said a major concern of all shelters is the supply of donated food. Grocery stores are a major source of donated fresh meats, pastries, vegetables and fruits. “Stores are getting wiped out and they may not have extra to donate. We'll have to see what this week brings,” she said.

She said the pantry at Crisis House has lots of canned goods, and the freezer is full. “But getting fresh foods could become an issue,” she said.

A month ago, Crisis House stopped allowing the public in for free meals. “We could see this coming in the wind,” Morole said.

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