When COVID-19 brought the shutdown in March 2020, shelves were emptied, workers were displaced, schools were shuttered, and even if we did not realize it, non-profits also took a hit.
Many non-profits rely on fundraising and donations from local communities, but with income limited, shelves bare, and the inability to gather imposed, different solutions had to be found.
We recently spoke with the Beacon Rescue Mission in Dunn and the Salvation Army of Fayetteville, to see how each organization is coping with an issue they both handle, sheltering.
Beacon Rescue Mission
"Normally, we house around 40 individuals, families in the shelter, but when this started we had to shut it down," said Amos Love, director of Beacon Rescue Mission. "We realized everything we would have to do to make it (the shelter) fit protocols and there just wasn't the ability to continue."
"Normally, we house around 40 individuals, families in the shelter, but we had to shut it down...there just wasn't the ability to continue."
Staying at the Beacon Rescue Mission would mean shared spaces at times, like the kitchen, and since that could not allow for distancing and time for cleaning, those people who would typically reside at the facility, are now being placed at hotels while they work to get back on their feet.
The money for hotels wasn't part of the budget, but it had to become part as the virus continued and that meant the organization had to step up a little differently.
When it comes to food, Beacon Rescue typically provides food in an onsite pantry for residents to use. Now, food is bundled and delivered for the residents to prepare in the kitchenettes of their rooms. The rest of the pantry food was distributed among the orgainzation's thrift stores.
The thrift stores, which serve as income for the organization, are also accepting food donations for the pantries.
For Thanksgiving, the annual meal was unable to be served, but families cooked and donated from their personal meals by delivering plates to the hotel.
"By the end of the evening, the hotel had about 10 or 12 extra plates of food," said Love. "The community has come together as never before."
Want to help the Beacon Rescue Mission?
The Beacon Rescue Mission offers faith-based programs that address not just the physical needs of food, shelter, and clothing, but focus on the source of why a person becomes homeless. Donate to Beacon Rescue Mission's food pantry at one of their thrift stores.
Salvation Army of Fayetteville
The Salvation Army of Fayetteville had a slightly different experience.
"We have had to reduce the number of residents we allow in our shelter. We keep a room "offline" or unavailable for use, in case one of the residents does come down with COVID," said Alison Henion, community relations and development coordinator. "As the weather gets colder, we do have our 'white flag' nights—if the weather drops below 32 degrees, we open our shelter doors to the public."
"We have had to reduce the number of residents we allow in our shelter"
But, with COVID-19, the Salvation Army has had to cut the number by half to be able to follow all social-distancing protocols.
Meals are served a little differently too.
"Our meals at the shelter are now on a to-go basis as folks are no longer permitted to eat in our dining room," said Henion. "All staff at our corps building, community center, shelter and family store are doing what we can to stay safe by wearing masks, washing hands, and more."
Meanwhile, the pandemic has added to the Salvation Army's budget by over 300 percent, with new expenses popping up.
Want to help the Salvation Army of Fayetteville?
- Donating: Financial donations can be made to Alison Henion at 910.483.8119 and press 5, or sent to The Salvation Army, PO Box 110, Fayetteville, NC 28302. Non-monetary donations can go to the Family Store located at 433 Robeson St. Fayetteville, NC 28301
- Kettles: Kettles will be unmanned due to COVID restrictions, but they will be in stores and you can donate to the virtual kettle.
- Angel Tree: Adopt Angels from Cross Creek Mall, the Walmart on Ramsey Street, or the Walmart in Hope Mills.