Preventing the spread of COVID-19

Scott Chin, President - March 27 2020

Community, Homelessness, Volunteering, Partners, Seattle

Preventing the spread of COVID-19

April 2, 2020

Some great news to share!

Earlier this week, the Mission’s Outreach team resumed operations on a limited basis after a two-week hiatus. Many of you will recall that the team was redeployed to allow us to better focus on serving those in our shelters and in our programs (we did remain in contact via phone with many during the past two weeks).

From Brian Chandler, the Mission’s Director of Outreach, “Amidst what the world is going through, I have seen relationships strengthened and have seen an increase in empathy for those we are serving, which is so amazing. We’ve also developed stronger partnerships with many of the other service providers in Seattle – as they lean on the Mission for help.”  

This week the Outreach team has been able to:

  • Help a sick girl after release from hospital. She had not eaten in four days
  • Locate an apartment for a 73-year-old man we’d been working with for 11 years
  • Drop-off supplies in Seattle, Kent, and Renton areas, while staying in touch with those in need via phone calls
  • Provide help to the leaders of the city's Navigation Team via conference calls
  • Assist Kent Lutheran Church in serving lunch to our homeless neighbors – 85% of those whom we’d served in previous months
  • Supply blankets and socks to local police departments and teams across the greater Seattle area to redistribute to those in great need

We’re thankful that we can get started again even with the new challenge of following strict social distancing guidelines. We hope to resume normal operations later this month. Please continue to pray for the safety and well-being of our Outreach team and the rest of our Mission staff!

 


March 27, 2020

Wednesday’s confirmed COVID-19 case at Riverton Place has led the Mission to immediately take more drastic measures in the difficult battle against the spread of the virus.

Today, we are announcing that our Mission Program sites will enter a full lock down phase for next 14 days in order to best protect the nearly 300 men, women, and children relying on the Mission for meals, shelter, and other basic needs. Many are a part of our year-long residential addiction recovery program. This move will greatly reduce the chance of outside exposure of the virus to this already vulnerable population. 

“We love our homeless brothers and sisters. We feel a great sense of responsibility to protect each one who lives with us and calls the Mission home,” says Scott Chin, Mission president.

The sites entering full lock down will be:

  • Men's Shelter – including Washington Court and Annex – Friday, March 27, 8pm
  • Hope Place, Women’s Recovery Program – Saturday, March 28, 8am
  • Riverton Place, Men’s Recovery Program – Friday, March 27, 8am
  • KentHOPE, Women’s Emergency Shelter – Friday, March 27, 12pm
  • Son Shine Inn, Mission Capitol Hill Campus – Friday, March 27, 5pm

A full lock down requires that no one will enter or exit any of these facilities for the 14-day period – with a few exceptions, such as emergency first responders, our facilities team responding to emergencies, and/or an individual who chooses to leave and not return. We have a set number of Mission staff who have volunteered to live on-site for the next 14 days to care for our guests. A member from the Food Services team will also be on site at the Men's Shelter and Hope Place during the lock down period. 

All other program staff not staying on-site will either be assigned to work from home or be temporarily assigned to help at other parts of the Mission. All case managers, chaplains, counselors, and support staff will check in daily with guests via phone to continue support.  

We hope to resume normal operations, including our Outreach and Search + Rescue efforts, after this 14-day period.

During this 14-day time period, we are also no longer accepting in-kind donations at any of our locations. However, the Mission has a great need for the following supplies:

  • N95 masks
  • Surgical masks
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Gloves
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Nonperishable food items

If you’d like to make a donation of these much needed supplies, please contact Scott

Please pray for strength, stamina, and God's protection for the staff and guests that will be on-site at our Program locations these 14 days.


 March 26, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Seattle, Wash. -  March 26, 2020) A program participant of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission’s Men’s Recovery Program at Riverton Place in Burien was diagnosed with novel coronavirus or COVID-19, on March 25, 2020. 

The program resident is at a local hospital receiving care. The Mission has notified public health officials and is following procedures recommended by Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

The Mission identified and notified two directly exposed employees who are currently in isolation and are closely being monitored and program staff remain in close contact with King County health officials regarding the two individuals.

“We are deeply saddened that one of our guests has fallen ill to the virus and we will keep him in prayer,” said Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission President Scott Chin. “We will continue to monitor the guest while respecting the individual’s privacy.

Program staff and participants continue to perform all necessary procedures required by our state health officials to eliminate the further spread of the virus. Staff and guests continue to frequently monitor temperatures and are required to wear gloves and masks. The facility will undergo deep cleaning by outside service professionals.

Riverton Place, a residential addiction recovery facility which serves and houses roughly thirty men, will remain open, but has halted new guest intake enrollment.

“We have every intention to remain open,” added Chin. “The Mission loves and cares deeply for our homeless neighbors. We want everyone to know they are loved and cared for by us, and by God, no matter their circumstances.”

​For more information, please visit ugm.org/health.​

Contact:
Public Relations Manager
aanderson@ugm.org

###

About Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission is a nonprofit ministry that loves and cares for our homeless neighbors throughout greater Seattle. The Mission addresses root causes and breaks the cycle of homelessness by meeting urgent physical needs, building relationships, and offering long-term recovery programs. Our efforts work to restore dignity and help move people to healthy, thriving lives. We want everyone to know, no matter their circumstances, they are loved and cared for, by us and by God. For more information, visit www.ugm.org.


March 23, 2020

The Mission continues to serve, love, and care for our homeless neighbors while adhering to CDC and Health department guidelines during the COVID-19 crisis. Although some programs have changed, we continue to prioritize the safety of staff, residents, guests, volunteers, ministry partners, and others in the community.

After prayerful consideration, we are extending the previously announced suspension of volunteer activities through April 30, 2020.

Many continue to ask how they can best help the Mission.

  • Pray: Pray for the continued protection of our amazing staff who continue to labor selflessly and lovingly. Pray for the Mission and for wisdom as we seek new ways to serve while adhering to the ever-changing guidelines. Pray for the protection of our homeless neighbors. Pray that we would keep our eyes on Jesus, and not look at the winds swirling around us.
  • Support the Mission financially. Please prayerfully consider how you can support or have others support the Mission so that our homeless neighbors will know that they’re valued and they’re loved, by us, by you, and by God, no matter their circumstances:

Thank you to our amazing volunteers who continue to support our Bring-A-Meal (BAM) program by purchasing and donating supplies, preparing and delivering meals to the Men’s Shelter, Hope Place, and KentHOPE. Contact Lori for the latest meal and pre-packaged food needs.


March 19, 2020

Want to help?


March 18, 2020

Recent news coverage offers a behind-the-scenes look into how the Mission is addressing the needs of our homeless neighbors. Check out the links below:

KOMO News
Navigation team focusing on preventing COVID-19 among homeless population

“It’s nothing short of miraculous that through all of our sites in the county, we haven't had one case so far of COVID-19, both of the staff or the guests” says Union Gospel Mission Program Manager Terry Pallas.

Seattle Times
Hand-sanitizer hoarding leaves homeless providers struggling for supplies during coronavirus crisis​​
Richard McAdams, who directs outreach at Union Gospel Mission (UGM), said his team had switched to rationing squirts of hand sanitizer when they were unable to find the individual travel-size bottles they normally distribute. As of this week, McAdams’ team has halted outreach to focus on the population within UGM shelters. But the shelter could use more cleaning supplies.

World News
Inside the outbreak: On the streets
Pallas said staff had to implement unprecedented policies and procedures “on the fly” to safely serve more than 800 people a night. The staff talks to local officials two or three times a week to get updates. In addition to spreading out beds, the shelter started serving breakfast and dinner as takeout and handing out sack lunches. The organization stopped sending staff out to the streets to actively look for the homeless. And workers are putting together a plan in case officials quarantine the shelter.


March 12, 2020

As we try to be diligent in protecting our guests, staff, and graduation attendees - per guidance from the CDC, King County Public Health, and Washington State governor on social distancing during the COVID-19 situation - both the Men’s Recovery Program Graduation (previously scheduled for Thursday March 26) and the Women’s Recovery Program Graduation (previously scheduled for Wednesday April 15) have been canceled

We will be conducting an “in-house” celebration at Riverton and Hope Place to recognize men and women “leveling up” in program and recognize those who have successfully completed program. Those who were scheduled to graduate will have opportunity to participate in a regular graduation in the future (after we have the green light to resume public meetings from the CDC, KCPH, and governor’s office).  The “in-house” celebration will only include current program ministries leadership, recovery program staff, and residents at their respective sites.


March 9, 2020

The following is an update on the Mission’s Volunteer program given the current COVID-19 situation.

Our goal is to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 and to protect our staff, guests, volunteers, and ministry partners. After prayerful consideration and on guidance from the CDC and the King County Department of Health, we plan to limit, shift, and reduce volunteer opportunities on an interim basis starting March 10 and continuing through March 31.

During this time, the Mission’s volunteer opportunities will primarily focus on basic services (services that allow us to meet the essential needs of our guests such as feeding, emergency shelter, transportation in Kent, and select emergency services).

We will temporarily suspend or institute alternative measures for all other areas of volunteering. Certain volunteer roles, such as those at the Dental Clinic, Legal Clinic, Outreach/Search + Rescue will be suspended through the end of March. We will also ask volunteers teaching a class or mentoring guests to refrain from coming to the Mission and instead teach or mentor via the phone or a video conference. 

From March 10 through March 31:

  • All volunteer Outreach Services and Search + Rescue are suspended. We will operate limited routes, utilizing Mission staff and selected program interns/residents.
  • All volunteer roles with Dental Services are suspended.
  • All on-site volunteer roles with Legal Services are suspended. Staff attorneys may have opportunities for volunteers to help remotely. For more information, contact David Mace.
  • All volunteer roles at Riverton and Hope Place, including the Bring-A-Meal (BAM) program are suspended. Pre-existing mentorship/ALPHA/sponsorship relationships can continue by phone or video conference. For Riverton questions, contact James Croone and Hope Place questions, contact Stacy Cleveland.
  • All volunteer roles at the Distribution Center (Kent) are suspended.
  • All non-staff work experience internships, such as Career Paths, paid or un-paid, please contact your Mission lead for details regarding your role. This includes Northwest University counseling interns.

It is our hope that this interim step is brief and that we will restore full volunteering opportunities soon. We will provide you with updates until that time.

Basic services during this interim period:

  • Meal preparation and meal service at the Men’s Shelter (Pioneer Square). BAM meals will continue at this location, please let Lori Schupbach know ASAP if we should expect any changes.
  • KentHOPE BAM drop-off – please communicate with Lori if your group is unable to provide food on your scheduled day. All BAM preparation must be completed off-site.
  • Morning and evening transportation for KentHOPE Shelter guests.
  • Basic Response – A new, interim volunteer opportunity for those interested helping in a variety of ways. This new role could be helping with transportation, preparing meals, or in other ways at the Mission. To learn more about specific needs and to see if it might be a good fit, please contact Glenn Olson.

Please continue to pray as we love and care for those in great need.


March 4, 2020 

The Mission has prepared a response plan in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) at any of our locations. We are committed to putting the safety and health of our emergency services guests/recovery program residents, employees, volunteers, and partners first. In all cases, our plans call for an abundance of caution and care.

We continue to regularly monitor COVID-19 in our city and state through the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state, and local healthcare sources. Like others in the area, we will work to reduce transmission, maintain ministry operations, and minimize any adverse effects of COVID-19.

A team of staff members met and will continue to meet with local Seattle King County Public Health (SKCPH) to discuss guidance and next steps and on addressing COVID-19.

All Mission sites continue to educate staff, guests, and volunteers on best practices according to health officials and we encourage everyone to do the same:

  • Proper hand washing - Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. As an alternative, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Here’s a link to the CDC’s instructions on hand washing: CDC Proper Hand Washing
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects (doorknobs, railings, counters, work stations).
  • Practice respiratory etiquette: Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow or sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick or if you are coming down with flu-like symptoms: CDC Flu symptoms

All Mission sites have initiated even more rigorous cleaning and sanitization protocols than normal to include hand washing and sanitization upon entry.

Additionally, we are asking all volunteers and staff to stay home if they are sick, or if they are coming down with flu-like symptoms.

  • Volunteers should notify our Volunteer Engagement Team and stay home if they are sick with any type of flu-like symptoms. volunteer@ugm.org or (206) 723-0767 
  • If a volunteer arrives to serve and appears to have flu-like symptoms, they will be asked to go home.

In the unfortunate case of a COVID-19 outbreak in the area, or if someone has been exposed to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19, staff and volunteers will be notified by email through the Mission's infectious disease outbreak response and critical next steps plan.

We’re taking all precautionary measures, but we still continue to go out every day to love and care for our homeless neighbors. Our shelters remain open for meals and emergency shelter. Please pray for our teams, and for the individuals that we serve.

Thank for your prayers, and for serving Seattle’s homeless with us.

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