What You Can Do To Help
Your financial gift right now will provide critical funds to sustain shelter operations in a much safer hotel setting and bring classes directly to students in their homes.
Your gift of select, essential items will help meet the most basic needs of our shelter guests and provide access to technology so our students can learn at home.
Our Response to COVID-19
During these unprecedented times, Our Saviour’s Community Services remains committed to its mission—providing shelter, housing, and education—while also ensuring the safety of our students, shelter guests, housing residents, staff, and volunteers.
Across the organization, all but a few in-person volunteer roles are on hold. Staff are working from home, except for essential shelter staff who courageously continue to show up for people with nowhere else to go during this public health crisis. Beyond this, COVID-19 (commonly known as the coronavirus) impacts each of our programs in different ways.
English Learning Center
Our distance learning program officially launched in late April. Students are engaged in online English and citizenship classes and 1:1 tutoring over the phone with weekly homework packets. In-person classes are suspended indefinitely. Out of the 145 active students enrolled in classes pre-COVID-19, an astonishing 123 are able to continue learning with us.
To help support the work of staff, our dedicated volunteers have also returned! Nearly 50 volunteer teachers are engaging with our distance learning program, primarily calling students to tutor them over the phone.
In addition to distance learning, we’re continuing to connect students to critical information and resources as the pandemic unfolds.
Our Saviour’s Housing
To better protect the vulnerable population of homeless adults we serve, our staff, and the general public from the increasing risk of COVID-19 transmission, we are working closely with the other adult shelter providers in Hennepin County, and our public and private partners, on a coordinated response. Our goal from the beginning of the COVID crisis has been to isolate our most vulnerable guests and de-concentrate our congregate shelters sufficiently to allow for acceptable levels of personal protection and social distancing.
The first phase was to isolate older guests and those with underlying health conditions in hotel settings, as well as provide separate isolation spaces for residents with presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19. As part of this phase, we also expanded our hours of operation to 24/7, so our guests no longer had to expose themselves or others to further risk out on the streets.
The second phase is to proactively relocate other guests from congregate settings, allowing further de-concentration. In partnership with St. Stephen’s Human Services, we are relocating all of our current guests – as well as a significant number of unsheltered homeless adults – to a hotel where they will occupy separate rooms. In doing so, we hope to prevent the devastating outbreaks that have ravaged shelters in other parts of the country. Staff from Our Saviour’s Housing and St. Stephen’s Human Services will jointly provide case management and support services for 160 guests at the hotel.
COVID-related safety measures will continue in the hotel space:
- Using personal protective equipment.All staff are using masks and have received training on how to use and re-use them.
- Implementing daily health checks, including checking temperature with an infrared thermometer. Guests with symptoms are asked to wear masks, isolated, and triaged. If tested, they will be isolated while awaiting results.
- Working closely with Healthcare for the Homeless to screen guests who develop symptoms that are consistent with the onset of COVID-19.
- Changing food handling practices. Catered meals for all guests are part of the relocation plan. Because of this, volunteers are no longer providing meals, and we are minimizing the number of staff handling food. Box meals will provide for individualized serving. Guests will no longer eat in congregate spaces.
- Cleaning and sanitizing guest rooms. The hotel will provide room cleaning twice a week. Shelter staff will do additional cleaning and sanitation as needed.
When Our Saviour’s shelter opened 24/7, it increased our operating costs by more than $14,000 per week. This next phase in our pandemic response is roughly tripling the shelter’s COVID-related operating costs. While we are grateful to have raised enough public funding to cover the first month of hotel operation, we will rely on a combination of public, private, and community support to sustain this much safer model of service in the months ahead.
Transitional and Permanent Supportive Housing
We continue to meet the essential needs of our residents in transitional and permanent supportive housing, while implementing new safety measures. Case managers are working from home, suspending in-person visits and conducting check-ins by phone. They are also dropping off essential supplies, such as food, without personal interaction. Additionally, after a month on hold, we’re carefully beginning to welcome new residents. Of course, our residents are following the same protective measures advised for the community at large.
On March 24, Governor Walz halted any evictions that may have affected our residents through the duration of Minnesota’s peacetime emergency. Additionally, no one will be taken off public benefits at this time.
In This Together
In all cases, we know that we are not in this alone. We are part of a system-wide response and will continue collaborating with our community of service providers, government partners, funders, and volunteers.
We remain inspired and uplifted by the commitment and willingness to pitch in that we’re seeing among staff, volunteers, and community supporters who care about the work of Our Saviour’s Community Services and the people it serves. Many of us have found ourselves in tears at some point, upon hearing of some generous act—to start a personal fundraising campaign, make an emergency contribution, or donate essential supplies. Whatever happens with the unfolding of these unprecedented times, we know this human spirit will prevail.
We are thinking of you and hope you are well. We will get through this, together.
Help us respond to COVID-19.
2315 Chicago Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Phone | 612.871.5900
Fax | 612.871.0017