Shalom Center modifies programs during pandemic
These are tough times to be a not-for-profit organization. The COVID-19 crises that has affected all businesses, has presented unique challenges and opportunities for not-for-profit agencies, institutions and social service organizations. In this feature series, the Kenosha News explores not-for-profit entities in our community affected by the secondary effects of the pandemic lockdown and the CDC’s ongoing health and safety recommendations.
SHALOM CENTER, 4314 39th Ave, 262 658-1713
Information provided by Tamarra Coleman, executive director
The Shalom Center is a 24/7 homeless shelter and provides the community with food through its food pantry and soup kitchen.
Question: How is the Shalom Center typically funded?
We are typically funded through grants, foundations and community donors.
Question: How did the pandemic/lockdown impact funding for the Shalom Center?
When COVID-19 hit in March, we saw a decrease in food, goods, and financial donations. Slowly, things have turned around and our food source has been steady. Funding is always a struggle for non-profits. As people are unsure of the future, they hold on to their funds a little longer and tighter.
Question: Has the pandemic affected the Shalom Center’s volunteer base?
For precautionary measures, and for the safety of our staff and residents, we were running our programs with no volunteers. In late April, we began bringing in two to four volunteers for our pantry only; however, in our Shelter and Soup Kitchen Network, we still have no volunteers. For an agency that relies heavily on volunteers, we have been stretched very thin and our amazing staff have stepped up to help other departments during this unusual time. If it wasn’t for the staff, we would have had to close our Pantry, which is usually 75% run by volunteers.
Question: Has this affected the way services are delivered?
We have had to modify all of our programs. We have spread individuals out in the shelter to ensure recommended social distancing. We encouraged residents to stay close to the shelter and wear face masks. We always kept a clean shelter; however, we now have heightened our cleaning and using more stringent methods to keep everyone safe. In our soup kitchen, we no longer have our network sites and only doing “meals-on-go” at our soup kitchen door. In our pantry, we aren’t allowing individuals into the store area. We are now doing a drive-thru pantry, where individuals don’t need to get out of their cars and we are loading their car for them.
Question: How does this compare to in-person contact?
We miss our clients. At the Soup Kitchen Network, we just gave more than just a meal; they were a place where the community members could came daily to see and catch up with their friends.
Question: Has the pandemic affected demand for Shalom Center services?
Yes. Specifically in our homeless shelter and food pantry. We are seeing individuals use our pantry who have never visited our pantry before. In the shelter, we get several calls a day with individuals and families needing shelter.
Question: What are some of the Shalom Center’s plans for recouping lost funds?
The Shalom Center is planning a series of “new” upcoming fundraisers. We having been hosting a Summer Drive-In Movie Night Series, with the last one scheduled for Aug. 22. This has been a great way to combine family, food, fun, a great movie and help our programs. We also will have our annual Golf Outing and Pasta Dinner in the fall.
Question: Do you see demand for services increasing in the near future?
I do. As individuals still try to bounce back financially, we see that our services will still be needed and are happy to continue to serve those who need us. That’s what we are here for.
Question: How do you plan to step up to serve these needs?
We will continue to monitor and modify our programming to ensure we are maximizing the opportunities available for those who need us, just as we have done throughout the pandemic.
In coming weeks the Kenosha News is reaching out to tell the stories of as many not-for-profit agencies as possible. If you represent an agency you feel should be showcased, please contact Heather Poyner at firstname.lastname@example.org; 262-656-6289.