When COVID-19 hit last spring, we made the decision to close the yellow house as planned. Instead of saying goodbye to guests for the summer, however, we moved them to hotel rooms where they could safely social-distance and continue to access much-needed services during the pandemic. Since then, the number of households experiencing homelessness in our community has tripled, with 80 households currently in need of housing.
We are expecting an extremely busy season this year for a couple of reasons:
- Unemployment in our community is at an all-time high.
- Individuals who may have been able to temporarily stay with family or friends may not be welcome during COVID-19.
- Seasonal shelters in other parts of northern and central Vermont are not reopening this year, and we are already receiving referrals from outside of Lamoille County.
- Hotel vouchers will only be available if shelter beds are full.
So, as we get ready for the winter ahead, we have made some important changes at the shelter to ensure that our guests and staff remain safe, healthy, and well cared for.
Most importantly, we are working hard to keep our doors open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In past years, we have closed the shelter during the day and provided guests with transportation to Morrisville for appointments. Given that many of these buildings and services will be closed for in-person meetings, we have applied for a permit to remain open 24/7. Stay tuned!
As a communal space, we have had to make some changes to ensure physical distancing. Each individual sleeping area will be separated by a plastic divider. In addition to a clean bed, each guest will have a small table for taking meals within their space. We will not have a communal table for meals, but will instead have individual seating, appropriately spaced in the common area so that guests may watch TV or converse with one another. The kitchen will be accessible by only one guest at a time, with strict cleaning protocols after each use.
Guests and staff will be required to wear masks indoors at all times EXCEPT when they are in their individual sleeping area. Social distancing will be encouraged at all times.
Meals: Dinner Donations on Hold
Regrettably, we are not able to accept dinner donations at the moment. We are so appreciative of the many people who took time to prepare and share meals with guests and hope to resume as soon as it is safe to do so!
In the meantime, guests will be provided with three, nourishing meals per day and access to any leftover food we have available.
Our wish list looks a little different this year too! Here are a few things we could use for the 2020-2021 season:
50 clear plastic shower curtains (to be used as dividers between sleeping areas)
- 50 new or used coffee thermos/ travel coffee cups
15 TV dinner tables
- Grocery gift cards (Hannaford, Price Chopper)
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Paper plates
- Paper bowls
- Plastic utensils
- Plastic cups
- Coffee cups
- Toilet cleaner
- Disinfectant spray
- Disinfectant wipes
- Floor cleaner
- Rubbing alcohol
- Coffee and filters
- Book clip lights
- Laundry detergent pods
If you are able to donate any of these items, please contact staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
We are 100% confident that we can create a warm, safe, and welcoming place for our guests even given the restrictions of COVID-19. It’s not going to be the same this year (what is??), but we will rally around our neighbors who need help and serve them with the kindness, dignity, and respect they deserve.