April 17, 2020
So many of you have reached out with words of support and encouragement that I wanted to send a short note to let everyone know how the organization and team are faring.
It is truly an unprecedented time and, unfortunately, the neighbors we serve are among the most vulnerable individuals in the current crisis. It is hard to shelter-at-home when you have no home. Broad Street Ministry’s focus has been on what critical role we can play in helping our guests and our City respond to incredible challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At first, our goal was to just stay open and provide our most essential services of meals, mail and personal care. In an abundance of caution, we canceled volunteer shifts early on and kept minimal on-site staff numbers. Our quick response meant our essential services never faltered and Broad Street Ministry was a dependable resource during unpredictable times.
We led the charge on placing hand washing stations around the city so that Philadelphia’s unsheltered population had access to basic preventive measures against coronavirus. In the process, we raised the visibility of this often overlooked population and what equitable public health measures look like (link to WHYY article)
An over 60% increase in our meal service towards the end of March, made it apparent to us that the pandemic has also amplified the hunger crisis. Our next challenge was to practice social distancing with a growing number of guests to keep them and our staff safe. We realized we would need to change our operational model yet again and move our meal service outside.
That realization led us to join forces with Project Home, Prevention Point Philadelphia and the City’s Office of Homeless Services. This week we launched the Step Up to the Plate campaign (read article here), a critical component of the overall City strategy to serve the increasing needs of the Philadelphians facing homelessness and food insecurity. Step Up to the Plate is providing 2,000 meals daily in Center City and Kensington and is rapidly expanding to North Philadelphia, Germantown/ Nicetown and South Philadelphia. BSM has assumed a critical leadership role for the City to coordinate efforts across the government, nonprofit and private sectors.
In the upcoming days, we will continue to focus on our core pandemic operations; to launch a new remote case management effort for the hundreds of Philadelphians who are coming home from incarceration to a City which has, in many ways, shut down; to provide ongoing leadership on the hunger crisis; and to help advocate for better screening, testing and housing for our guests.
The one constant throughout all of this has been the heartfelt support of the broader BSM community. We will continue to need this support, as we wrestle with the cancellation of a major fundraiser, unpredictable impacts on the levels of philanthropic and charitable giving, and increased expenses due to the crisis. Any amount you could donate would be greatly appreciated, as we strive to not only step up to the challenges created by COVID-19, but also ensure that we are there for our community when they strive to recover from the long-term harm caused by this crisis.
We are deeply grateful for your support and holding the entire BSM community in the light during these troubling times,