Before I can even begin to give thanks in this annual Thanksgiving blog, I want to acknowledge all those who have suffered with or lost someone due to the Coronavirus. These last 8 months have brought so much pain and suffering to so many, we wonder how we can continue through the coming winter months. As President of Crossroads Rhode Island, I also worry about the families and individuals who are without homes during such a time as this. I worry about the children who are supposed to be participating in their education remotely and how that is almost impossible when living in shelter or in an unsafe place like your family’s car. I worry about the individuals who are afraid to come into shelter because it feels unsafe due to the virus, and try to find alternative, often unsafe, places to stay.
But throughout all this, I know there are awesome things happening. People and organizations who have never before worked together are cooperating to offer solutions for those most vulnerable in our community. Heroic front-line staffers continue to work 24/7 to ensure those who need these essential services get them safely. Donors and funders stepping up to provide critical resources necessary to continue running our programs and services safely during the pandemic.
During the early months of the pandemic, when we were preparing for the pending surge in cases, we were focused on moving individuals out of the congregate shelters and into a place where they could socially distance and reduce the risk of contracting the virus. While we had over 100 people in hotels, we kicked up our efforts to house them. We knew the hotel was not going to be available throughout the entire pandemic and we know the safest place for people to be is in their own home.
Our staff worked tirelessly with other service providers and people from various state departments to focus all our efforts and resources on the one thing that ends homelessness: housing. Had you told me in April that we would actually successfully move over 70 people from the hotel shelter to their own apartment, during the shut-down due to the pandemic, I would never have believed it could be done. But it was. We did it. And now those 70 households are safe and able to quarantine in their own homes just like you and me. They will be able to celebrate the upcoming holidays from their own apartments. They will not have to worry about where they will sleep or if they will contract the virus from another in the shelter.
As we enter the holidays and winter months, I know the power of everyone moving in the same direction and focusing on the solution. We have done it during more difficult times, we can do it now for the remaining hundreds of men, women and children still in shelter. I am so thankful we were able to move that many people to the safety of their own homes. I am thankful for the tireless work of our frontline staff, our community partners and you – our donors. Without all of us working together, this would not be possible. And the people who rely on us for help ending their homelessness deserve nothing less.
I wish you and all those you love a very healthy and happy Thanksgiving. Please be safe.
Karen A. Santilli