At Covenant House Alaska, our commitment to our mission is only increased during uncertain times such as these.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about the unique risks that youth experiencing homelessness are facing right now:
-Every young person who walks through our doors, simply by nature of needing to be here, has already experienced trauma. Uncertainty like what we are all dealing with right now exacerbates this for them.
-Sleeping outside or in crowded shelters makes youth more vulnerable to infections like flu, colds and other serious health conditions.
-Young people need a consistent, nutritious diet to help them stay healthy, which is unavailable to youth experiencing homelessness.
-Our youth are, after all, still young and still growing. That means physically, psychologically, emotionally, and cognitively, it is very important to mitigate the kinds of traumatic experiences that can complicate this crucial growth.
What we’re doing:
-We are monitoring the research and recommendations from the CDC, Covenant House International, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention, and our local and state governments.
-We are maintaining a stock of emergency supplies (we Alaskans know about earthquakes, after all) that will last several weeks including food, linens, hand sanitizers, cleaning materials, medicines, and more.
-In addition to our regular cleaning processes, we are making sure our staff communicate best practices on handwashing, ‘covering your cough’ and keeping our space as clean as possible to youth on a daily basis.
-We will rely on our own staff to continue essential services.
-We have offered training for our administrative staff, who do not have direct care experience, so that if necessary they are able and comfortable to step in and support our frontline coworkers.
-Our Emergency Plan includes remote work where possible, minimal staffing (essential personnel only), and cancellation of all work travel, whether international or domestic.
-We have revised our youth intake process to include recommended screening questions to better determine exposure.
-If a youth presents with symptoms or has been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed or is symptomatic, they will be isolated while our staff follows the direction of local healthcare partners.
-Just as importantly, we are going to maintain good spirits for our youth who are feeling so uncertain. We are fortunate to have a number of characters among our staff, including our Senior Program Officer who has now recorded six (quite silly) cover songs originally by artists from The Police to Nirvana on good handwashing and self-quarantining practices.
What YOU can do:
We love our volunteers, and visitors from our community who drop off donations. But, for the time being, our policy is that only staff enter the building, with the exception of a few volunteer activities that are already slated. We are not on-boarding any new volunteers at this time, and we ask that donations, including soup, not be brought to our programs.
However, we do still need your support and there are still items our youth need on a daily basis. If you would like to support us during these uncertain times, you can make a cash donation here on our website, or find our Amazon Wishlist here and order items to be delivered to us.
We are so grateful to our community for supporting us so we can support our youth, most especially when times are scary for them and uncertain for all of us. Thank you for everything. Be safe, Alaska!