The journey out of homelessness often begins with a hot meal and a safe place to sleep.
Providence Shelter is the first step out of homelessness for many of our guests. Our trauma-informed services are designed to invite guests into deeper engagement, helping each guest develop a feeling of safety and love that will guide them into further internal work and life-change. In many cases guests identify areas of growth and choose to move forward into our Residential Programs while others transition out at this stage and back into life outside Water Street, but better equipped and supported than before.
Providence Day Shelter is a safe and inviting place for our Emergency Shelter guests to spend their mornings and afternoons, if they choose to do so. Meetings with life coaches, case managers, and community partners happen in this space, as well as opportunities to connect on a deeper level with other guests. This also serves as our location for chapel and other classes in the evening.
All Providence Shelter guests get access to our dining hall for all of their meals. We designed the space to feel as inviting and warm as possible because we know that for many, a healing journey can simply begin with a hot meal. This location is also a spot where supportive relationships start that can last a lifetime.
At the end of himself, with no resources, no prospects and no hope, James remembers being at the corner of Prince and Lemon Streets, deciding whether or not to turn left and end it all by throwing himself in front of a train.
Instead, he found himself suddenly at Water Street. He was broken, crying and drunk and two guys immediately walked up to him and put their arms around him, telling him that everything was going to be okay. A Case Manager talked with him, letting him know about the programs that would be available to him. Further suggesting that James was in no condition to make a decision that day, his Case Manager got him set up with the emergency services he would need and told him that he would talk with him the next day.
The road wasn’t easy, but James put in the work and through support from staff, found a new hope and security in Christ. Now James is 5 years sober and a certified Recovery Specialist, helping others as a Residential Coordinator and Facility Caretaker at Rase Project – a Recovery Community Organization.
Sadé began running away to escape the constant torment from a young age. In an unsafe environment, she regularly experiencing the sexual abuse of her father – a man who would later be imprisoned for abusing another family member.
She jumped around…landing in a group home … her aunt’s home … and eventually dancing in a club at the age of 16 just to survive. Despite a seemingly endless loop of disappointment and hurt, there was still something deep inside Sadé that knew there was more.
Finally, Sadé came to Water Street. Hope was kindled in her heart and her vision for a better life grew. She actively took part in everything she could, from classes like Identity Matters and Biblical Life Management, to getting her GED so she could further her studies. Sadé learned to forgive, to trust, and most of all, she learned who she truly was in Christ! Now Sadé is studying to get her Masters in Counseling, and has found a safe environment for her and her sons.
Water Street Mission has helped provide life giving, whole person care to thousands in our community over the years.
Be a part of the rescue and renewal happening continuously at Water Street by considering a donation!
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.