A long line of people formed outside the Daniel Pitino Shelter, 501 Walnut St., on Wednesday in anticipation of the 11 a.m. lunch.
Before serving, one of the homeless shelter’s volunteers blessed the meal prior to styrofoam boxes being handed out that contained beef patties, carrots, green beans, corn, macaroni and cheese and two pieces of bread.
William Fleming was among those waiting to receive a meal.
“Some people didn’t know about it right away when it was first decided that gatherings would be limited,” Fleming said. “After we found out about it, we’ve been here every day.”
Along with providing a place to stay for families and women, the Daniel Pitino Shelter also operates an eat-in soup kitchen for residents and non-residents alike.
But with the COVID-19 outbreak, Michele Johnston, executive director of the Daniel Pitino Shelter, said restrictions had to be made, which meant closing the soup kitchen to nonresidents.
Johnston, however, said that a solution was found with carryout boxes that are distributed for free from the shelter’s front porch.
“We had to think outside the box on how we do our lunch — literally — for the community,” Johnston said. “Even though all of the shelters are on lockdown, that doesn’t count the ones who are not in the shelter. …We’re short on volunteers now, so staff has been handing out meals. …We’re still making anywhere between 60 to 100 lunches on any given day.”
For those living in the Daniel Pitino Shelter, they’re limited to their jobs, doctor appointments and other necessary places pre-approved by the caseworker.
The shelter’s capacity is 60 people and as of Tuesday, there were 27 adults and 12 children residing there.
“I’m also holding three rooms as quarantine areas if we have to use that,” said Johnston, adding that both staff and residents have their temperatures checked before entering the building.
At St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter, an all-male facility with 60 beds, Executive Director Harry Pedigo said restrictions have been made to limit possible exposure.
Pedigo said donations and meals are being dropped off at the main entrance and they’re no longer accepting any new residents from outside the county.
“We’re taking their temperatures twice a day,” Pedigo said. “We’ve got a sick room. So if anyone is running the slightest of fever, we put them in the sick room and have them call the (COVID-19) hotline.”
And because the shelter is at capacity and most of the men aren’t leaving as much, Pedigo said hygiene products, toilet paper and cleaning supplies are being consumed faster.
“If they’re not going to work or to a doctor’s appointment, we’ve asked them to stay put,” Pedigo said. “We’ve opened up the showers during the day. Everything’s been kind of stressed, out of normal and out of sorts. So we’ve been running through that stuff.”
CrossRoads, an emergency overnight homeless shelter for women and their children, has put in place similar restrictions such as checking temperatures before re-entry and creating social distancing with bed spot positioning.
Michele Ison, CrossRoads executive director, said 18 women and two children were there as of Monday night.
“If (the) temp is above 100.2, they are referred to (a) clinic or hospital,” Ison said. “So far, we have had no one with an elevated temperature. Guests with (a) cough but no fever are given masks until morning.”
All three of the shelters said their greatest current need is for cleaning and disinfectant supplies and hand sanitizers.
To make a donation to St. Benedict’s call 270-541-1003 or 270-216-5910; Daniel Pitino Shelter at 270-688-9000 and CrossRoads at 270-240-2773.
Don Wilkins, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7299