Liz Bahr is the Director of Family’s Darmstadt Shelter for Homeless Individuals (families who are experiencing homelessness stay at the Family Inn on the same campus in Kingston). ” So much has changed about how we are working,” observes Bahr. “We never closed. All of our staff are working but we had to completely change the way we operated. No more eating in the dining room which is open to the kitchen. We are at capacity with 19 people but everyone has to eat in the living room in 3 shifts. We have one room with its own bathroom where we can provide isolation in case someone comes down with a fever.” Bahr describes altering the sleeping arrangements, which are dormitory style. “We did a lot of work with a tape measure to keep everyone separate!” Helping people get out of homelessness requires intense counseling and case management. Plexiglass has been installed for those times when social distancing isn’t possible. There are multiple fever checks for staff and residents each day.
Will the changes be long-term? Bahr doesn’t believe they will. “I look forward to not wearing a mask all day. I go home exhausted from not breathing correctly for so long.”
The thing people seem to miss most are the donations. Unfortunately, it is both illegal and impractical to take in items right now. “We get calls all the time. Everyone is home with lots of time to clean out closets. Our residents miss being able to find a great new outfit or items for their new apartment. We will figure that out but it may not be for awhile.”
Bahr came to work one day last week and someone had placed a lawn sign in front of the Shelter. It read ” Thank you for the work you do.” She has no idea who placed it there, but it made her day.