Friends of the Mission,
The world is quickly changing. Schools are closing, grocery stores are left with empty shelves, trips and plans are being canceled, and we are left in a state of uncertainty. So, where does that leave shelters and organizations like the Modesto Gospel Mission in relation to COVID-19 and this novel coronavirus? We minister to a high-risk population of men, women, and children that may have no other option but to depend on services like ours. Today our purpose has never been more relevant – to serve those in need in a time of desperation.
On a practical level, the Modesto Gospel Mission is serving our vulnerable guests by following specific guidelines set forth by local, state and federal government agencies. We are in continuous communication with Stanislaus County’s Public Health Services Agency, and we are closely monitoring guidelines published by such government agencies such as the California Department of Public Health, Cal BCSH, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA, and HUD, just to name a few.
The Mission’s leadership team has developed an emergency operations plan to minimize and prevent exposure to and infection with COVID-19. These are just some of the measures we are taking out of an abundance of caution:
- We are installing automatic hand sanitizer dispensers at major entry points of each of our buildings and restrooms.
- We have posted CDC posters/flyers on proper hand-washing techniques, COVID-19 symptoms, COVID-19 FAQs, and preventive measures individuals can take around each of our buildings and in each of our restrooms.
- We have cleaning crews every shift that clean and sanitize all restrooms, mop floors, and wipe all doorknobs, handrails, and bed railings with suggested commercial-grade sanitizer.
- We continue to launder bedsheets, pillowcases, and towels for all guests and program disciples.
- We continue to require that all shelter guests and program disciples shower each evening, and we continue to provide fresh, clean clothing to our shelter guests after showering.
- We have moved the men’s shelter bunk beds further apart, and we are having all of our guests that use bunk beds alternate sleeping head to toe based on government recommendations.
- We have created separate living quarters with beds and a bathroom to isolate guests displaying symptoms of illness or those with significantly elevated risk of infection.
- We have split up and staggered our meals from 5 per day to 9 per day, ensuring that we pare down the number of people assembled and eating in our dining room at any one time. We have also relocated the evening dinner for youth and their families that attend the Youth Center so that they are not dining with our homeless guests, again to reduce the number of people assembled in one location.
- We have developed a plan to immediately provide transportation to those guests displaying COVID-19 symptoms to a healthcare provider, a local medical clinic, or a hospital emergency room.
- We require all visitors to our Youth Center (children, parents/guardians, volunteers, and employees) to be checked for fever or other COVID-19 symptoms before entry.
- We are encouraging all of our employees to stay home who feel sick in any manner, and have offered non-essential employees the option to work from home if possible.
Further, as the way our programs and shelters are structured, our shelter guests have the option to stay on campus around the clock, attending our Freedom Road Day Program, which removes the necessity of leaving or becoming exposed to or spreading COVID-19.
Finally, we at the Modesto Gospel Mission are doing our best to abide by our governing authorities, and love our neighbors and community well by minimizing risk of spreading COVID-19 as much as possible. However, among the uncertainty, we know ultimately Who is in control. In troubling times, we lean on our faith in a good Father, who never changes, and has ultimate sovereignty on all that happens in our universe.
We echo with the Psalmist, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)
God bless you, and may He keep you safe and healthy.
Jason Conway, Executive Director
New Life Program Graduate 2008