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What happens at Harvest House during a crisis like this?

The impacts of COVID-19 on our Harvest House family have been vast.

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Over the past week, we have been working with our residents to ensure all recommendations from the CDC are followed. We’ve provided all of our units and offices with extra hygiene supplies such as anti-bacterial soap, hand sanitizer, and surface disinfectants, in addition to our regular practice. We’ve purchased additional food and drinks and we’ve spoken with all current clients to ensure that they understand the importance of good hygiene, social distancing to mitigate spread, and overall good health not just for themselves, but also for the sake of others including those with compromised immune systems.

We are currently working with a skeleton crew. We’re working together to take care of employees that show signs of illness or have school-aged children, encouraging remote work where possible, and offering paid sick time off. Due to the nature of emergency shelter and transitional housing, many of our employees cannot work remotely, but we are working hard as a collective to keep our spaces sanitized and disinfected. Please keep all essential workers in your thoughts and prayers.

We have a Hands-Off policy in place on all of our campuses, requiring no touching between people, no sharing of possessions, no entering units other than the one an individual lives in, and clients are to use their assigned bathroom only. We have also canceled all life-skills classes until further notice. Instead, we will be facilitating independent meditation and journaling and we’re exploring ways to host classes virtually. Accountability and mental wellness are very important for clients on the road to recovery.

We are still operating our Harvest Food Pantry which distributes 16,000+ lbs of food to the community weekly. Our next distribution is planned for ‪this Thursday from 10 am to noon at 3650 17th Street, Sarasota, FL 34235 unless other recommendations come from the CDC. Food distribution will be executed drive-thru style to limit person-to-person contact. We will also have extra hand-sanitizer readily available.

Many of our clients are already affected by the pandemic via lost wages and jobs, or the threat of losing those. Single parents are finding it very difficult to care for their school-aged children and go to work. Not all employers are able to offer child care solutions, paid sick leave, remote work days, or make up for lost sales. This is likely to have catastrophic effects on families, children, and individuals on the road to recovery.

During a time like this, our expenses rise while our income drops. Personal responsibility is key to recovery, so clients usually pay a program fee or rent based on their income. In 2019, 33% of our income came from client fees for services. During this time clients may be unable to pay the fee for service, therefore we will likely see a significant loss of operational funds over the next several months. To help mitigate the spread of disastrous economic effects on our community, we’ve established a Benevolence Fund that will allow us to respond to the needs of our community without the fear of running out of resources. This will help prevent families, youth, veterans, and individuals with a history of addiction/incarceration from backpedaling when they’ve already made so much progress.

Please consider supporting your local nonprofits. If you’d like to make a contribution to help our efforts, visit harvesthousecenters.org/benevolence