HELENA — Winter is upon us. This is the time when Helena homeless shelter, God’s Love, prepares for their highly-possible overflow of their facilities. They are in need of items, but are more in a need with the pandemic.
God’s Love had to cut six beds to meet COVID-19 guidelines. This leaves them with 25 beds instead of 31. This may not seem like a big difference, but they tell MTN that in the winter, they tend to see even more people than they can handle. Now, they'll be able to handle even less.
“With COVID-19, that's kind of one of the questions that were kind of playing it by ear, seeing what we can do, making sure everyone stays safe and trying to find resources for 'Hey, once we are full, how can we socially distance in overflow, if that's possible,'" says Rachel Saunders, the Office Manager for God’s Love.
God’s Love found one resource over the summer with the use of Helena YMCA’s Camp Child to house families. According to the Elkhorn COAD Chair, this program is no longer in service.
“Couple of things happened, number one, the Governor went to Phase Two, which allows these families to be able to go back into God's Love, if they so choose,” explains Joe Wojton, Chair of Elkhorn COAD. “And second of all, we were able to get a contract with a local motel, which is a lot more feasible for these people who are staying in shelter settings, as far as searching for job opportunities, going to and from work, daycare opportunities for the children, schooling, and stuff like that."
Despite the local motel contract, God’s Love still expects an overflow this winter. They received one answer to their many pandemic questions with a donation of materials to make each bed into a cubicle to help with the pandemic situation. They’ve also enforced mask and social distance requirements. They are now requesting donations of winter clothing and, of course, cleaning supplies.
“If you don't want to come in and you can set [donations] outside, just call saying ‘hey I'm coming with a donation.’ You can set it outside and we will come and we'll grab it and bring it in,” explains Saunders.
God's Love says they will still host their annual Thanksgiving dinner this year. They will remodel a bit of their facility to meet all COVID-19 precautions.
Lewis & Clark Public Health has isolation shelters should an individual from God’s Love get the COVID-19 virus.