Over the past two weeks, Wind has made strategic changes as we operationalize plans around COVID-19. Implementing social distancing and increasing sanitizing practices were among the first steps we took to minimize risk among our primarily millennial population. Subsequently, we’ve put into place additional safeguards to protect our staff, volunteers, and youth. Wind has adjusted and restructured staff, work schedules, and work locations to accommodate the following programmatic changes:
New Ways to Serve
Embracing the COVID-19 Task Force recommendations, we have changed in-person meetings between case managers and clients to virtual meetings. The online meeting format gives us the ability to maintain direct, one-on-one counseling and assistance. Each housing site has workspaces set up with computers and internet connection to allow youth to attend school online and have various virtual interactions.
New Ways to Support
Historically, Wind’s shelter and housing programs have been structured for youth to work or attend school during the day, thus leaving housing sites empty and “closed” during those 6 – 8 hours. Due to schools and campuses closing and businesses minimizing employee hours, Wind will now have support staff to keep our housing and shelter programs open 24 hours. Operating hours will increase from 16-hour days to homes being available to shelter-in-place for youth around-the-clock.
New Ways to Protect
Beginning March 20, Wind will be proactively implementing “Programming In-Place” at our XH, Common Ground, and TAY housing programs. Individuals who reside at a particular home will receive all programming at their respective locations to create service communities to support social distancing. Wind will be deploying a small “cadre” of service providers dedicated to a single housing unit. Each site will be a distinct community that will not interact or cross-pollinate with any other community.
The Mission Continues
Wind will continue to provide breakfast and lunch and workshops at the Drop-In Center 7 days a week. Our doors will continue to open as long as we can maintain adequate staffing. Working on a slightly abbreviated schedule of 7 am – 3 pm, the Drop-In Center will be available to youth who are new to our system or who are currently experiencing homelessness. Youth who are enrolled in one of our housing programs or shelter or living in a stable environment will be expected to shelter-in-place and not visit the center for meals and programming. The adjusted hours and protocols should significantly lower the number of people in the center at one time and allow staff to maintain programming safely and effectively.
Wind’s programs are functioning at full capacity, in addition to having an emergency shelter waiting list. As we do our part to operate safely, best practices and protocols will continue to evolve. Every day brings additional (and sometimes changing) news and recommendations from the government. Wind will continue to run our programs until local, state, and or federal health departments recommend otherwise.