Washington, DC—March 26, 2020—While much of the rest of DC has shut down, Central Union Mission is determined to continue caring for those in our community experiencing poverty and homelessness. Our homeless shelter is at capacity every day, and our Family Ministry Center continues to provide much needed food to low-income families and senior citizens. Despite decreases in donations of cash and food, as well as a temporary stop to all volunteer help, the organization continues to serve hundreds of people each week.
According to Mission President and CEO Joe Mettimano, “Today, we can say that keeping the Mission operating is literally a matter of life and death. The folks we serve may have nowhere else to turn during this crisis. On top of that, we are trying to keep our house full of 170 people free from COVID-19 infection. These are very challenging times, but we trust in God for the outcome.”
Since the homeless are much more vulnerable to COVID-19, the Mission has taken a number of steps to protect its guests from infection. The organization acted quickly at the beginning of March on basic protocols like emphasizing hand-washing and sanitizing surfaces, such as door knobs. Efforts expanded a week later to taking the body temperature of all guests and staff each day and sending anybody with a fever and symptoms out for a medical evaluation. Today, the shelter has gone the extra step by requiring guests to stay on premises for the duration of the crisis. All of these efforts are aimed at preventing the virus from getting into the building, which could be catastrophic in a homeless shelter setting.
“Governments around the world have urged people to stay home. For the 170 men in our shelter, this is home, and we will comply with what we’ve been asked to do,” stated Mettimano.
The Mission also expects to see an increase in needy families as layoffs continue. Its food distribution center has been stretched. Grocery stores are not able to make their usual donations because of increased demand, but the Mission is benefitting from catering companies, museums and restaurants donating their unused food. Looming layoffs, stock market uncertainties and threatened recession also have an impact on much needed financial support during this time. “We know this crisis could potentially last for months, but we need to meet the ongoing needs of the vulnerable in our community,” said Mettimano.
The Mission has backup management plans for protecting guests, staff and staff families should the current situation need to change. The public is invited to donate funds to support our efforts, as well as bleach/alcohol cleaning products, tissues, over-the-counter medications and other items to help us protect our overnight guests.
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About Central Union Mission:
Central Union Mission is a faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the oldest private social service agency in Washington, DC. In addition to its emergency shelter, which provides almost 60,000 bed-nights each year, the Mission operates a holistic, Christ-centered transformation and workforce development program for men, provides benefits for veterans, helps people overcome addictions, operates a food and clothing distribution center which provides food for over 4000 people each month, runs a camp for underprivileged children, and offers a ministry to families and senior citizens.Charity Navigator has rated Central Union Mission, GuideStar awarded Central Union Mission a Gold Seal for our financial transparency and GreatNonProfits has given Central Union Mission a Top-Rated award.
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