Love Language of the Organized: Maria Asin, Office Manager of Water Street Health Services

As Office Manager, Maria discusses how she uses her skills to help prepare Health Services to be ready when the next urgent case walks through the door.

Decades after fleeing a life-threatening dictatorship in South America, Cristobal* found himself living on the street. Having grown too old to keep working and facing major medical issues including complete deafness, loss of vision and atrophying in his legs, Cristobal lived in the streets for four years before finally being found and brought to Water Street.

The Medical team at Water Street often have to jump in alongside people who have gone too long with too little help—whether it’s because they are experiencing homelessness or struggling to overcome poverty. To meet their needs, it’s Maria who gets the staff, volunteers and resources into place; helping to keep our Medical programs running smoothly.

Maria uses her gift for organization to love her neighbors

Maria is also the keeper of our medical and dental resources, most of which is donated by amazing partners in our community.

Maria has a huge task, bringing in highly educated volunteers who also want to join in our mission to be the hands and feet of Christ. As Maria sat with Cristobal—translating for his doctors—she learned what a miracle it was that he was found before dying alone on the street. Instead he was able to meet experienced Doctors and Nurses to care for him.

Maria lights up when she talks about connecting all the dots for Water Street patients, putting everything in place for their arrival each day. As volunteers, Water Street Doctors market value in their field is a minimum of $90 an hour. But they do the work of several full time doctors…for free.

But getting them all here takes a lot of spreadsheets, case management for patients and…organizational skills. Maria creates the schedules for our staff and volunteers in the Health and Dental Clinic, making sure consistent care is give and no patient misses out. It’s a huge task to ensure each patient has enough time with a Doctor—especially those who have gone through significant trauma or who haven’t gotten care in decades—while still accommodating the large number of people seeking medical help in Lancaster county.

Individuals, Individually

Even with her accounting background and love for crunching numbers, Maria is really passionate about one thing: “Getting to know individuals, individually.”

That is the only way she knows she is reaching her goals, and that each patient who leaves, leaves with new hope. After years of going on his own, Cristobal not only had major medical needs, he needed to be seen and heard—and finally know he was not on his own.

Maria’s passion for helping people like Cristobal comes directly from Jesus: the most powerful healer. To her, Jesus came not just for our spiritual well-being, but to walk amongst the sick and hurting. As Maria explains, “He’s our best example…We have that power of doing what He has done as well.”

“Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.” Matthew 15:30

*Name changed for anonymity

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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