Rescue Mission Food Drive Press Release

Contact:

Matt Clement

mclement@wsm.org

717-606-8782

Rescue Mission Food Drive to Fuel Water Street Mission’s Outreach to Neighbors Struggling with Hunger.

Rescue Mission Food Drive Will Aim to Collect over 70,000 lbs. of Food by Christmas, to Help Feed Local Families in Need.

Lancaster, PA (October 2021) – Rescue Mission Food Drive (RMFD) is a key part of the year for Water Street Mission, bringing in 70,000 lbs. of non-perishable food – roughly the weight of 230 refrigerators combined. Proceeds help provide meals for men and women experiencing homelessness, but they also support the Outreach Center, a food distribution center for neighbors of Water Street Mission in downtown Lancaster. The Outreach Center provides grocery assistance to over 2,000 unique individuals and families, providing roughly 646,000 lbs. of groceries to the community each year.

 Many of these neighbors come for grocery assistance because they are on a fixed income, have recently migrated to Lancaster, or are struggling to pay rent or other bills. Regardless of the reason they come for help, Water Street strives to meet each person where they are, helping them recognize they don’t need to go through these challenges alone.

Throughout the last year and a half, the Outreach Center has been a key touchpoint for many of its shoppers. With little outside contact, staff have worked to check on the health and wellness of its guests, and encourage shoppers to stay positive and hopeful.

“It’s been a particularly challenging time for many of our neighbors, who were going through a challenging time to begin with,” explains Dan Siewart, Vice-President of Community Ministries and Outreach at Water Street Mission. “It’s always our goal to go beyond giving out basic necessities, and to really connect with the community, so they know they aren’t facing these times alone. It’s about more than handing out food, we always take the time to get to know those who come to the Outreach center so we can build deeper relationships over time, but also so that we can better serve the community and it’s needs.”

As previously mentioned, food donations from RMFD don’t only benefit the Outreach Center. This winter, Water Street Mission is gearing up to serve nearly 45,000 meals in its dining hall for men, women and children experiencing homelessness. Over the colder months, they see an increase in intakes as guests come in to escape the elements.

Each year, RMFD plays an integral role in helping meet this massive need. As Jack Crowley, President of Water Street Mission explains, “We see a large rise in guests over the winter months, but also an incredible outpouring of support from the community. It’s important to us, especially over the holiday season, to show our neighbors that they are cared for and loved and Rescue Mission Food Drive is a huge way we do that. Our hope is for men and women experiencing homelessness, who come to us for food and shelter, to leave knowing they have a community behind them. In many ways, it’s that support and love that helps guests rebuild their lives, and overcome personal obstacles.”

RMFD would not be possible without this year’s sponsors and drop-off locations who are helping Lancaster fight hunger and poverty. Food donations can be dropped off at Water Street Mission, Sharp Shopper, Boscov’s, CommunityAid, M&T Bank, Bomberger’s, Berger Rental Community, Sheetz, Weis, and AAA Central Penn location in Lancaster County. Anyone looking to participate or learn more about the event and food items needed can check out rescuemissionfooddrive.org for more information.

About Water Street

Since 1905, Water Street Mission has provided an environment of hope and healing where at-risk men, women, and children in Lancaster County can find a hand-up and restoration with God. In addition to food and shelter, all guests have access to medical, dental, behavioral health, spiritual, and career support while on campus. For more information about the programs and services of Water Street Mission, visit WSM.org

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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