Renewed Strength

Gertina had reached the point of exhaustion. Growing up in New York and raising a family in a dangerous area, situations had led her to relocate to Lancaster in hopes of a better life for her children. Instead, her depression worsened and her living conditions became increasingly unstable as she bounced from apartment to apartment. Gertina was on a path without hope till the day she decided to come to Water Street for help.

“Before I came to Water Street I was depressed. I couldn’t find myself. I wanted to hurt myself. Water Street opened my eyes and said, ‘you cannot hurt yourself. You have to wake up, you have your kids to look after.”

“Before I came to Water Street I was depressed. I couldn’t find myself. I wanted to hurt myself.”

At Water Street, Gertina found the support and dignity she needed to overcome her obstacles. She was able to open up and share her inner struggles. Through a difficult life journey – including the devastating loss of a daughter – Gertina had lost her faith in God. Her Life Coach and Case Manager listened, comforted her when she cried, and helped her recognize the root causes of her homelessness and rediscover her true identity in Christ.

Pastor Booth’s classes and the Christ-centered atmosphere of our campus helped Gertina feel comfortable enough to start reading her Bible again. She began to see Jesus in a new way and rekindle the relationship she had lost with God.
As her spiritual foundation strengthened, the staff supported Gertina in building life skills and a network of support. Being at Water Street provided what Gertina needed to restart her life. “I found a lot of people to help me. They never disrespected me or told me I couldn’t do something. They helped me all the way.”

Gertina’s confidence has continued to increase and she now loves her Bible and reads it every day. She is thankful for Water Street and the people that took the time to really listen to her, “Water Street is the best place to be. They will do a lot for you. They will listen to you … They do the best they can to be by your side.”
She has plans to get an apartment when she is ready to move on from Water Street. She looks forward to visiting New York and to taking care of her family again. Thanks to those who support Water Street through their prayers, volunteering, and generous gifts, Gertina no longer thinks about hurting herself. She has a bright future and renewed strength for her journey.


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