FROM COLETTE NEWER, Washington Conference Outreach Ministries director
Dear Adventist Community Service center leaders,
Whether you operate a food bank, clothing bank, thrift store or learning site, a diverse group of people regularly comes into your facility. With the spread of COVID 19, it becomes especially important that you take precautions to keep your volunteers, customers, clients and yourself safe. Some of these include:
- You and your staff should wash your hands with soap and water frequently throughout the day, cover your coughs, and keep your environment clean.
If you are sick, please stay home.
- If you or a volunteer, customer, or client develop symptoms while at your facility, please wear a facial mask and isolate yourself to call your doctor with your symptoms and exposures.
- Place hand sanitizer stations at the entrance of your facility and encourage volunteers and clients to use it.
- Place garbage cans by the bathroom doors so it’s easy to use a paper towel to open the door then throw it away.
- Have boxes of tissue strategically placed in your facility so they’re easy to grab to cover a cough or sneeze.
Sanitize your facility as much as possible using EPA recommended disinfectant products. The cleaner your surfaces are, the safer everybody will be.
- When you’re meeting as a team, it is a good opportunity to pray for wisdom and guidance on any additional changes that should take place on your operations.
- If things get worse, strategize how you’ll decide if you should close for a week or two for cleaning and safety.
- If there are those who rely on your services for basic needs, such as food, is there an alternative way to deliver the goods? This may be appropriate if you need to close, or it may be wise if your clients are particularly vulnerable to infection.
I would suggest that you have a staff meeting to evaluate your service situation and brainstorm other strategies that can provide greater safety. Work on cross-training staff and volunteers. Please keep us posted on your plans, strategies, and needed resources.
Washington Conference has curated additional resources to help you evaluate your environment and know how to respond: http://bit.ly/wacoronavirus. Take the time to familiarize yourself with this resource as well as with your local Department of Health and the CDC. Stay up-to-date from reliable sources as this situation continues to be fluid.
And remember, a large factor in situations like this is the fear and uncertainty it generates. If you don’t already, this is be a good time to offer emotional support and encouragement to those you serve. Your calm presence can go a long way towards calming fears and focusing minds on taking the steps that are under our control.
Published March 6, 2020