Amos House's Response
What a year 2020 is proving to be! And while we are no where near the end of this challenging time, I want to take this time to update you on the ways that Amos House is addressing these challenges for our community.
When the realities of the COVID crisis began to set in in mid March, my first thought was “How do we adjust our programs to make sure that people still get what they need?” My second thought was “How in the world will we pay for this?” All those who work with me know that I am an eternal optimist. I have a reputation for saying that I know something will come through in our toughest times that allows us to keep serving the community. Our partners, donors, and friends came through to make the continuation of our work possible. I have been so touched by the outpouring of generosity we have received.
From old and new friends, corporate partners and family foundations, so many people have come together to support the work we are doing during this challenging time. We know that those we serve will be among the hardest hit in the long term, and we are doing our best to prepare for that reality. Your gifts to Amos House allow for that.
Here are some of the changes we have implemented in the past months to meet community need:
- Soup Kitchen: In mid March we ceased serving congregant meals in our Dining Hall and transitioned to serving all meals to go and distributed via the rear doors of our main facility. We added an evening meal and have been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At least two of the three daily meals are hot meals and all meals continue to meet our high nutritional standards. In addition to meals served on site, we also provide delivered meals for our emergency shelter operating out of an area hotel and local homeless tent encampments in Warwick. In the months of April and May alone, we served more than 30,000 meals.
- Hygiene and health access: For our homeless neighbors, access to public restrooms disappeared with the closing of coffee shops, libraries, and service agencies. In an attempt to offset these limitations, we have added a portable bathroom and hand washing station to our parking lot. We are also supplying guests and visitors for meals with disposable masks and hand sanitizer. Public health and hygiene should not be limited to those of us with homes.
- Shelter: When the COVID crisis began, we were nearing the scheduled end of hosting a Winter Emergency Shelter. The Shelter in Place directive changed that timeline and 50 men and women continued living in our Pine St facility for the following two months. We were able to transition to a hotel in May, offering more space and a healthier environment to those without permanent housing. We have worked tirelessly with the State and partner agencies to access additional supports. We placed as many of these guests as possible in permanent housing and are still working with a number who have temporarily hotel vouchers until we are able to secure housing for them. The lack of affordable housing in Rhode Island is not a new problem, but it is certainly amplified during this time.
- Housing: All of our housing properties, including our Recovery Shelters and Family Reunification Programs have operated uninterrupted, with increased staff attention. Case Managers work within the houses with guests to limit any need for our guests - many of whom have medical issues that make them higher risk - to leave their homes.
- Recovery: Recovery is the foundation of our work and that has not changed. These times of high stress only increase occurrences of relapse. We have added technology to all of our houses to help our guests access remote NA and AA meetings, meet with mental health practitioners, and feel connected to family and friends from whom they are physically separated. Our experience is that community is the strongest support for recovery and we are committed to maintaining a strong sense of community for all of our guests who are addressing their substance use disorder.
- Social Justice: Our community, much like many across the country, is hurting. Amos House was founded almost 45 years ago on the principles of social justice and we are duty bound to build upon those ideals. An important part of our service to the community is to stand in unison with our neighbors in affirmation that their voices are important, the systemic racism they experience is an unacceptable reality, and their lives matter. Now more than ever, we must use the power of our voice as an organization to protect and advocate for those we love. We have begun a daily outside meeting where our guests and staff come together to discuss feelings and experiences and listen and learn from one another. Together, we are considering the ways that we as an organization and a community can take action. It is not the answer, but my hope is that it provides some healing in this time of intense hurt.
- Job Training and Employment: How we deliver our job training programs must change to fit our current world. We are redesigning curriculum and creating new pathways for education. We are working to craft smaller rotating training groups and investing in and working with technology to continue to offer our students the same access they had prior to the COVID crisis.
All of these actions and so many more required flexible funding and the ability to pivot and change when needed. As we look toward many uncertain months ahead, we know our presence will be needed more than ever. From rental assistance to employment supports, we are committed to offering our neighbors the help they need to face the short and long term consequences of this health and economic crisis.
Thank you again for supporting our community. We are honored and proud to count you as a part of the Amos House family.
With great thanks,
President & CEO