Main St Shelter Plan Update for the 2020/2021 Shelter Season and COVID19
It has been a long summer of Social Distancing and agonizing over how best to address our COVID Shelter realities.
I beg your indulgence in allowing me to explain some things from our perspective:
MAIN St Shelter is a Ministry of Still Waters Grace Brethren Church (now, an independent church) that was established
in 2004 for the sole purpose of meeting the needs of those on the margins through friendship and connecting those friends
with the wider Church Body, effecting change within those Bodies by modeling first century Church among them, free of the
trappings and "Church Craft" of modern business and consumer marketing models, polity, and privatized worship services
by calling churches outside their comfort and placing them directly with those in need. Its expected as a central part of
life together (the Church) by Christ. Its why, and how, MAIN St Shelter started.
We've had our challenges for the past couple of years as people have come and gone, making this mission harder as we've
tried to provide. As difficult as things have been, we never imagined how 2020 would end, as our biggest challenge.
This past shelter season ended with our closing the nightly mobile shelter program early, in March and placing our guests
into motels to socially distance themselves responsibly while working to find permanent housing. We received enough donations
to sustain everyone indoors through the end of April and beyond, our last guest having left July 1st. We also, had the opportunity
to put people into boarding house rooms and apartments, as well as checking in on everyone periodically to assist with food
needs and working with local agencies for permanent housing support, but these efforts have left us financially struggling
while a regular flu season, coupled with what we expect to be an increase in COVID cases, is approaching.
After a lot of consultation on health matters, considering our biblical mandate, our volunteers, our guests and all of
the various dynamics ranging from mental health to sanitary issues and hygiene, we believe it would be negligent for us to
risk our staff, volunteers and guests in a confined mobile shelter, sharing space including bathrooms and sleeping locations.
So at a time when we are already challenged in so many ways, we still need to try to provide safety, through the Church.
So, this season will be different...
Normally, we occupy a church space for a month at a time, providing dinner each night through volunteers, with staff monitoring
guest as they sleep all night long, and providing breakfast each morning. That cannot happen this year, so we are going to
attempt to provide motel accommodations as we did at the end of the last Shelter Season, but our operation and criteria will
need to change to accommodate this year:
> We will refer all guests first to the 2-1-1 system within Montgomery and Chester Counties.
> Accommodations through MAIN St will be for individual rooms at several local Motels, within their availability,
and for one week at a time. Since there are no night staff monitors (like in the shelter), guests will need to conduct themselves
appropriately as the Motel(s) have the right to evict. We will simply be providing funds for their stay.
> There is significant cost involved with this. Last year, individual accommodated cost approximately $500 per hotel
guest, per week. This year we anticipate the same cost associated per individual.
> We will accept people for funding on a case-by-case basis, depending on our budget, donations ongoing, and their
ability to stick to a plan for obtaining permanent housing.
> There will be a formal intake process with a minimal amount of paperwork.
> The process for eligibility (which is not a guarantee of acceptance) is to call 610-455-5333 to obtain an appointment.
> We will not be accepting referrals from outside agencies.
In the past few years, certain agencies and organizations have used us as a "dumping ground" to "warehouse"
the people they would not respond to, leaving us with their most difficult cases, trying to address the most vulnerable people
with very high and desperate needs, on our very small budget and with very few solutions. For four years now, one agency
who has the responsibility and the budget for addressing these needs through "rapid re-housing" has not offered
anyone who they had referred to MAIN St in the past, help to leave our shelter after arriving with us. We no longer can afford
to do their job for them.
> We will not be providing evening dinners or morning breakfast, so donation will be accepted for NON-PERISHABLE food
to be boxed and delivered as groceries periodically to guests.
> We will not be accepting any bedding of any kind this year; blankets, sheets pillows, etc.
> We will accept Toiletries; shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.
> We will accept all of the items listed on our Help Projects Page.
Click HERE for our Help Projects Page.
> We will need periodic volunteers to help package grocery boxes for delivery to guests at hotels, distanced appropriately
and masked per CDC Guidelines.
Click HERE to Volunteer.
> We are in desperate need of even more financial donations at such a time where our funding has decreased and we have
You can contribute online HERE, and discover other ways to contribute to the MAIN St Shelter project this season. Please consider
ongoing support options too.
Its been a challenge to capture all of this and we are certain thing will change ongoing as we try to adapt to new challenges.
We are still continuing MAIN St Communities subsidized housing, where staff and transitional housing remains unchanged by
COVID, and we are trying to continue Housing Assistance where we are able.
So, these challenges are pretty steep, and our prayer is that we can continue to provide at a time that is more desperate
than normal, and when we are operating with far less.
Thank you to everyone for your patience during this difficult time and for your continued support of our most vulnerable.
We were overwhelmed with your response when this all began, and we are hoping that the same concern will rise again, now as
we plan the 2020/2021 Shelter Season. I am personally full of thanks for how many of you have shown that the true nature of
Christ is still alive and active in our world!
Please pray for these efforts, with an open ear toward, "LORD, what would you have of me in all of this" as we thank
God for the rare privilege to serve with Him. (Matthew 25)