A Monthly Hero Profile: Chet and Sharon Beiler

How did you become interested/connected to Water Street Mission?

For many years Sharon and I have been aware of and pleased to partner with the wonderful work of WSM. We have had the privilege of working with others in our community who have encouraged us to support the work and reach out to those in need in the name of Jesus.

What excites you the most about our work?

We are glad that WSM ministers to the whole person addressing their needs physically, mentally and spiritually.

What made you want to support us financially?

We appreciate that the leadership and the model at WSM are both solid. We give with gratitude for how many beautiful yet broken lives are improved and changed for the better, when they hit a rough patch in life, because of the help at WSM.

How has your giving changed over time?

We have had a goal to increase our support each year. We were also encouraged to learn that we can partner with WSM through our will to further the work even when we are no longer here.

Why did you decide to become a Monthly Hero?

The convenience to be more consistent in our giving appealed to us. We have decided to make helping those in need an absolute priority.

Can you tell us about a time you’ve encouraged others to become connected with us?

We have found it easy to invite friends to events where the amazing work and results of WSM are presented. The remarkably efficient way the many volunteers and staff at WSM impact and change lives have received positive attention nationwide. God’s favor is on this work, and we count it an honor to be involved.

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An Update from Jack 5/4/2020

12/17/2020

Dear Friends,

Throughout this season, we have encountered a number of challenges in operating our shelter safely. Thankfully we have been blessed to see no community spread among our guests. This is due not only to the work of our team, but also the ways that upgrades to our facilities came at just the right time.

For example, Providence Shelter, which opened in November 2019, provides additional spacing and a top-tier air filtration system. We have also been able to implement the same air filtration standards in our dining hall prior to the most recent wave of COVID.

Because a high percentage of our guests have preexisting health conditions, we have had to be diligent in our safety protocols, doing our best to ensure their safety. For us that has included implanting all CDC disinfecting, masking and social distancing from the very beginning. This has led to major changes in roles and responsibilities of staff. Staff have taken over disinfecting in shifts all over campus. They have also delivered much of our support services and programs through zoom, hosting counseling sessions and classes virtually and meeting in-person with plexi-glass dividers only when necessary.

For meals, we’ve changed preparation and delivery to help minimize interaction of guests who live in different facilities. At times that has meant delivering meals to certain Residential Floors so we can keep smaller groups in the dining hall. We have also had to restrict guests’ travel on and off campus to only essential trips such as going to work, the doctors, shopping etc., in order to minimize unnecessary exposure.

Another change in this season has been how we do intakes. Currently, the intake process requires new guests to be tested for COVID-19. They await their test results in a separate temporary shelter we have set up, before entering Providence Emergency Shelter.

All of these changes have been made while severely limiting the number of volunteers on campus. At one point, all volunteering was completely put on hold. Now, we are running with a third of our normal volunteers.

And it’s been tiring, for both staff and guests. We have had times where many staff were working remotely due to their own health risks. Other times where staff or guests have been quarantined due to exposures. But even with all of the schedule changes, increased overtime, and cross-shift working, our team has done an amazing job persevering through all of the challenges.

What to Expect This Winter Typically we have over 200 total guests on campus, over 100 in our Residential Programs over and 100 in our Emergency Shelters. Although our Residential capacity remains about the same, we have had to reduce the available beds in Providence Shelter to ensure safe spacing overnight from about 75 to 55.

Winter always presents its own challenges, so we anticipate this year will be no different. Women in our Providence Shelter have moved over to the shelter at St. Mary’s across the street, run by the Lancaster Food Hub. During their stay there they have full access to all of our services, including showers, food and staff support. Not only does having women shift to St. Mary’s enable us to free up additional beds for men, it will help us keep the shelter populations separate and limit the risk of spread.

Thank You We have been so encouraged by the support we have received this year. Without a community coming around us and our guests, we would not be able to keep our guests safe and continue to guide them in their restoration journeys. We truly couldn’t do what we do without you.

Jack Crowley

President