By Guest Bloggers Katie Bryant and Kristen Machado
The year 2020 has brought so much havoc and instability to us all. From virtual school to job losses to missing our friends and family, the global pandemic has made even the strongest among us struggle. Our neighbors who experience homelessness are also significantly impacted by COVID-19.
City With Dwellings—a local non-profit organization focused on eradicating homelessness in Winston-Salem—remains dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable in our communities, albeit in more creative ways. You may be familiar with City With Dwellings’ operation of overflow homeless shelters during the winter months. Typically opening December 1 and closing March 31, this past shelter season ended abruptly on March 19 due to the spread of COVID-19. However, our care and support of our guests did not end.
City with Dwellings has been working with Bethesda Center to operate a “Medically Fragile Shelter” in a local hotel, where guests who have COVID-19 risk factors are sheltered in individual rooms. This program has allowed for intensive housing work to happen—and the hope (and reality!) for many of our guests is that they move directly from the Medically Fragile Shelter into their own homes. The Dwelling, an offshoot of City with Dwellings, has also been instrumental in helping to make some affordable apartments ready to rent to our guests by partnering with a local apartment complex. COVID has changed the ways we work, but has not limited our ability to provide support to our people experiencing homelessness.
Due to the pandemic, City With Dwellings won’t be operating its overflow shelters in traditional fashion due to the risks involved with housing many people in a common space. However, many opportunities remain for volunteers who wish to help those experiencing homelessness during their housing journeys. Here are some ways you can help:
- Attend City With Dwellings’ new advocacy and education event, “Roots & Responses” on Tuesday, November 10, from 7 to 8:30 pm. Register by November 6 HERE. We’ll be discussing tangible ways to support the work of City With Dwellings and the upcoming winter shelter season.
- Donate drinks for The Dwelling’s work on rehabbing apartments for those experiencing homelessness. Pastor Emily Norris and Karen Britton with the United Way have been hard at work for months, establishing teams of volunteers and putting in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears of their own to renovate apartments in Winston-Salem for those who need a home the most. Check out their work on Facebook here. Their volunteer teams are thirsty! If you can spare a 12-pack of soda pop or Gatorade, or donate money, we can keep these volunteers painting, gardening, and hammering away. Email Kristen Machado at: email@example.com to participate in this outreach.
- Provide meals for our homeless guests who will be sheltering safely in a local hotel. Each night, we will need volunteers to provide lunch bags and individually boxed hot meals. Volunteers will drop off the lunch bags or dinners at the hotel with a monitor who will see they are distributed to our guests. While we will all miss the community we have built while serving and eating with our guests during our traditional overflow shelter seasons, this model ensures the safety of our guests and volunteers. The sign-up is not yet live for this opportunity. If you’d like to be included on an email list of volunteers, please reach out to Katie Bryant at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, always check out www.citywithdwellings.org or our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/citywithdwellings to catch up-to-date news. And please feel free to reach out to us. We would love to get you involved in supporting those experiencing homelessness.
Katie Bryant. email@example.com
Kristen Machado, firstname.lastname@example.org
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