During this challenging time related to the COVID-19 pandemic, CARITAS is more committed than ever to providing compassion and support to our most vulnerable community members. We want to inform you of the precautions CARITAS is taking amid the pandemic facing our community as well as share updates about our programs and procedures.
The safety of our clients, staff, volunteers and visitors is our highest priority. We take very seriously our role in caring for a vulnerable group of people within various communal settings. As such, we are working closely with our partners at VCU, Daily Planet Health Services, Homeward, and the City of Richmond to establish and maintain protocols for COVID-19. We are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Please continue to read this update with news, information, and ways to engage. We will update this page regularly throughout the pandemic.
Positive Updates at CARITAS
We are pleased to share some of the following positive news related to our mission and programs at CARITAS:
- CARITAS is working! Some office arrangements may work a little differently. Please use staff cell phone numbers if available and consider there may be a delay in phone message and email response times.
- We currently have not had any diagnoses of coronavirus for staff or clients.
- The Healing Place for Men and Men’s Shelter remain open, though limited. More details are below.
- Our women’s shelter continues to be hosted by local congregations, for which we are extremely grateful.
- We are so grateful for community partners who are providing food for our program participants. Those meals would typically be provided by volunteer groups, who are currently not allowed to visit onsite.
- CARITAS Center construction is still underway, but planning for festivities related to the Center’s grand opening are on hold depending on progression of the virus and resulting public health protocols.
- CARITAS anticipates no reduction in force. We are, however, increasing pay for front-line staff and we are allowing employees to use additional sick days because they cannot safely work. You may donate here.
Precautions at CARITAS
While our classrooms, restrooms, living spaces and offices have always been cleaned regularly, we are taking the following additional steps to ensure clients, staff, volunteers and visitors remain safe:
- Increasing the number of hand-sanitizing stations.
- Escalating cleaning procedures using CDC-approved disinfectants multiple times each day in high-touch areas such as restrooms, door handles, telephones and eating surfaces.
- Displaying CDC handwashing guidelines in our restrooms.
- All onsite program staff are wearing protective equipment such as disposable gloves.
- Ensuring our employees have the information and resources they need to stay healthy.
- Allowing telecommuting for employees not required to work on-site.
- Eliminating all large in-person meetings for our board and staff.
- Offering increased pay to our front-line employees who are facing unprecedented risks and long days.
- Offering PTO to those who cannot safely work during this time.
Programmatic Adjustments at CARITAS
We are working to adjust our programmatic procedures, as well. Some other program adjustment include:
- Suspending all new intakes into The Healing Place for Men.
- Suspending all new intakes into our 24/7 Specialty Shelter.
- Suspending all on-site volunteering.
- Suspending all Furniture Bank donations, deliveries and shopping.
- Monitoring the temperatures of all essential staff and incoming residents.
- Enforcing property restrictions at 700 Dinwiddie Avenue.
- Testing residents with the help of Daily Planet Health Services, which has extended its hours. If a resident tests positive for COVID-19, the participant will go to a hotel for monitoring.
- Limiting in-person recovery group gatherings in our programs to residents only and other virtually.
- Adjusting sleeping arrangements in the residential recovery program.
- Offering the Family Education Program online via Zoom. Learn more.
CARITAS is a member of Greater Richmond Continuum of Care (GRCoC). Together, the GRCoC is connecting individuals who are unsheltered to emergency shelter, emergency shelter alternatives, and accessible health care.
- People experiencing homelessness are encouraged call the Homeless Crisis Line at 804-972-0813.
- People in recovery are in need of community more than ever. At The Healing Place, we have needed to close our on-site community meetings to residents only. However, this Google Document shares a list of resources compiled by VCU.
- The Centers for Disease Control has recommendations for keeping yourself safe as well as those around you. Please learn more on the CDC website. Download and read this helpful quick reference guide in PDF format.
Ways You Can Help
- Our frontline staff members are facing unprecedented risks and long days. Other staff members are working from home or taking sick days if they cannot safely work. We have increased pay for frontline employees and are extending sick days during this time. We are also using various supplies including thermometers and cleaning supplies at higher rates than ever before. If you are able, please consider making a financial donation to CARITAS during this critical time. You can support our work here.
- We need for fabric face masks as we run out of disposable masks. We will need hundreds of fabric masks that can be washed and reused. Please make no-contact drop offs outside The Healing Place at 700 Dinwiddie Ave, near the mailbox in the parking lot. Our staff will keep an eye out for donations to receive them immediately!
- Along with our community partners, we have created opportunities to help serve meals to people sheltered in hotels during this time. Click here to learn more and sign up. For questions, please email email@example.com.
- Our partners in the GRCoC have worked with the City of Richmond to create a list of items you can donate to our program and others like ours in the area: gift cards for gas stations and food; cleaning supplies; disposable face masks; thermometers; canned food; and bus tickets. If you’re interested in donating, please contact Michael Rogers of Homeward at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 804-343-2045 x 22.
Thank you for your support and confidence as we navigate this unprecedented landscape. We know this is a rapidly-evolving situation, so we will continue to make prudent and necessary updates to our programs to safeguard the welfare of our clients, the community, and the entire CARITAS family.