One of the most significant challenges we faced this year is connection while keeping staff and volunteers safe. Distance learning, loss of employment opportunity, and changing guidelines kept youth close to their “home base”.
Nightly meals were made available at our pickup “Window Service”. Warm weather meant picnic tables and an invite to spend a few moments together while eating a hot meal.
In June with our capacity indoors limited we collaborated with the WeARE Clinic Fundraiser. Together we created a Parking Lot Patio for youth to hang out, eat food, and connect with a caring adult. Indoors youth wear masks except when eating, are reminded to wash hands, and social distance as they can. And it’s working.
With the second shut down in November and a line of youth outside on a cold November day picking up Thanksgiving Meals we needed to change.
Our Street Outreach Program happens 2 days a week. We call it ShopCart Delivery and set a 23 mile limit from TheShop. Youth and their housemates send us a text for delivery on Wednesday and Friday and include any special requests (hygiene goods, blankets, tee shirts, socks, etc). With support from Sprout MN and The Woods’ b*merri we include pre packaged frozen meals for our non-delivery days. We offered food and fellowship for a few moments each day.
Connections that happen over a shared meal or a cup of coffee are hidden resources we use to build trust. Food is essential for so many different reasons. We are so fortunate and humbled to be part of a community of individuals and organizations helping us achieve our goals together.