On the Other Side of Water Street’s Residential Program

We last heard from Sadé in 2019, featured in the Fall Messenger Edition. Back then, overcoming the abuse she received as a child, had often left her feeling like she was “drowning in darkness.” But she was never one to back down from a challenge. Instead, she worked hard, and leaned on God, building up the tools and mindsets she needed to create a brighter future for her kids.

Today things are different. Now on the other side of our Residential program, Sadé is seeing all of her hard work pay off. Maintaining the same steady job and saving to buy a house has given her a financially solid foundation she never thought she would achieve. “When I was not at my best, and I didn’t have a relationship with God…it had me believing that I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t capable of being financially stable,” she says.

“God is awesome, just try to enjoy the process and don’t give up…”

Her new found stability isn’t just for herself. More than anything she is amazed by how it has impacted her children. They are already setting goals for themselves and thinking about everything they can accomplish when they grow up. “Because they see their mom get up every day and go to work,” she explains. “They see the sacrifice, and they know they are capable of doing anything they want to do, as long as they trust in God and are willing to do the work.”

She taught them to pray, but today, they are sometimes the ones reminding her. “So I know that [Water Street] gave me tools where, it not only helped me become who I am…but also helped my kids understand the morals and values at an early age, to take them farther in life.”

Even though going through Water Street’s program won’t permanently shield you from hardships, Sadé explains, the program has allowed her to see things differently. She’s faced the loss of loved ones and this tough season of COVID, finding now that “trusting and having faith and allowing Christ to walk beside you and live within you, you overcome those situations in a positive way.”

All this has left Sadé full of encouragement to others. “God is awesome, just try to enjoy the process and don’t give up,” she says. “We are so quick to go back to these negative tools to try to make us feel better, but it’s a temporary moment…God is permanent.”


An Update from Jack 5/4/2020


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