Covid-19 has changed the way the world looks at hospitality. We protect others by being less inclusive – we don’t gather with our friends and family, we don’t share as freely, we keep a distance and often a barrier between ourselves and those we meet. While Micah is not exempt from these new social norms, five months into the pandemic we are still pursuing hospitality in the most creative ways we can.
When it became clear that this virus was a real threat and it would be necessary for anything ‘non-essential’ in the community to close down, Micah committed to be the lighthouse in the storm. Most of us could distance ourselves from CoVid-19 by sheltering in our homes. Besides the enhanced risk of infection that comes from living outdoors, suddenly our homeless population would not have the same access to community meals, temporary shelter from the elements, or even public bathrooms and water sources they had relied on for basic safety. They needed the Hospitality Center on Princess Anne Street to remain open as a starting point and source of community in circumstances that were far more complex in the midst of pandemic.
Although we’ve had to do some things differently, the center is still welcoming people Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm. Thankfully, emergency management resources have made it possible for nearly all of our street homeless to be offered temporary shelter. We cannot imagine the crises that would be before us, had that opportunity come to fruition. For them, hospitality can now be delivered one on one. It comes directly to their doorstep in ways we have only dreamt about. But everyday that we open the doors to a heat index of 100 plus degrees or a severe storm warning, we remember that there are some whose circumstances prevent them from accepting help and new people lose their homes every day.
There are things the Hospitality Center still can’t provide. We can’t provide a whole morning’s refuge from the elements. We can’t gather for a mini health clinic or food distribution. We can’t provide that much needed haircut or the perpetual flow of coffee. We require masks and social distancing and limit the number of people at any given time. Lunches are take out only. And our guests these days often have to access community resources through a computer screen. But, if nothing else, we can provide a place to come inside for a few moments and make a connection.
That connection might be a shower that allows someone to feel clean again after a couple of nights sleeping outside. It can be an address where the post office can leave the envelope that contains connection to family, benefits or other important information. It is connecting with someone to help you figure out how to replace the lost identification card or sort out complex paperwork. It’s a bag lunch when you haven’t eaten yet or a few extra bottles of water when the low temperature is in the 80’s. It’s someone to welcome you inside, even if only for a short time, and ask you what has happened since the last time you were here.
The hospitality center is a care coordination hub for those who sleep on the street. Although the direct traffic coming through 1013 Princess Anne St. is currently smaller, we are providing the same care we always have in the places people are sheltering. Due to CoVid-19, some of our volunteers have dwindled and there are many ways you can help be a part of the unique ways we are caring for people in this season.
For more information on the hospitality center:
(540) 479-4116 x15