A couple weeks ago this novel coronavirus was beginning to fill the news. There were reports of cases in California and yet it still seemed so far away. A week and a half ago, Christian Social Concerns (CSC) assessed what was going on and how we could both help some of our community’s most vulnerable population as well as protect many of our volunteers who are in high risk categories if they are exposed to coronavirus. We hatched a plan and began implementing it the same day on March 9.
Instead of meeting our clients inside Clay Hall in the CSC office we moved outside. This “Outside Office” is a card table and the most basic supplies to keep a list of clients being served. We have stopped having clients sign each time they receive services and made the process simple. We can even open with only one volunteer serving in this “outside office” just outside the Priest’s Sacristy and in sight of Edwards Hall!
Our usual food bags are no longer being packed as a client waits with customized ingredients, but rather we have small teams of volunteers pre-packing those non-perishable bags of food in advance, storing them on tables in Edwards Hall, and ready for our pantry volunteers to hand out bags across a table the next time we open. This is reducing the amount of time clients are waiting as well as the length of time clients and volunteers are interacting.
We have said “see you soon” to many of our volunteers who need to step back for now so they can remain healthy. We have become creative in how things get done, how many people need to be at CSC to open, and a host of other details. CSC is filled with incredible people who have amazing hearts.
There is room at this “socially distanced” table for anyone who wants to serve alongside us during this unusual time. Food Pantries are among the exceptions to the “shelter in place” order recently issued that is expected to end April 7, 2020 at midnight. Our plan is to remain open on our regular Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons feeding the hungry.
The last couple weeks have meant many adjustments for all of us at St. Mary’s, in Pacific Grove, and around the globe. Our partners and volunteers at First Presbyterian and the greater community have continued to serve with us both in a “socially distanced” presence and from a prayerful distance. We are all in this together. God is with us in this time. Stay healthy and well.