Serving the Most Vulnerable

by Abby Brill

5enses is constantly working to provide updated information about resources to help us all get safely through this tough time, but there are some who are more at risk than others. The Coalition for Compassion and Justice serves the most vulnerable in our community: those who are without homes or suffer from extreme poverty. We talked with CCJ Director Jesse Hans to check on how her staff is managing to balance getting their clients access to much-needed resources while keeping them as safe as possible from COVID-19.

Individuals who are homeless suffer a lot of uncertainty. Where

will I get my next meal? Where will I sleep tonight? Will there be a bed in the shelter? Where can I use a bathroom and access water? How do I stay safe? The arrival of COVID-19 has exacerbated their already stressful lives. The city has closed down the public restrooms on the Square and campgrounds are now closed, including the bathrooms, which were sometimes the only source for hygiene and water for the homeless. The CCJ shelter on Miller Creek Road has 30 beds in normal times, but now, with the shelter-in-place policy going into effect, they are looking to increase that number, working with the Salvation Army, Prescott United Methodist Church and local donors to increase services for the homeless population. Clients and staff are now screened when they come to CCJ , checking their temperatures and answering a six-point questionnaire to evaluate their risk of being a carrier. The shelter is thoroughly sanitized twice daily, and agencies are on standby to come do COVID-19 testing onsite and provide isolation opportunities if indicated. All staff, including thrift-store staff, the HR Director and maintenance, have up-to-date training. Should any client or staff member show symptoms of infection, a plan is in place to optimize the safety of everyone in the CCJ community. This really is a community. Staffers check in on each other, knowing they are frontline workers dealing with a highly vulnerable population suffering with multiple layers of anxiety. Jesse makes time to acknowledge the sacrifices her staff members are making, missing family members, feeling so vulnerable, and this helps them get through long days so they in turn can help their clients. She cannot praise her team highly enough. Their online meetings often end with humor and always with gratitude. The CCJ Thrift Store is currently closed and larger fundraisers are not scheduled. Funding is low and monetary donations are needed. Some other ways you can help the Coalition for Compassion and Justice:

- Speak with your elected officials to push for accessible, immediate testing. - Check any foundation you are connected with to see whether it may be able to offer emergency funds to help the homeless population. - Donate food; you can drop it off at the shelter on Miller Valley Rd. - Hire CCJ landscapers — they need the work! - Stay at home! Jesse also encourages everyone to keep updated on how we can stay safe by following Dr. Fauci’s press conferences. For more about the Coalition for Compassion and Justice, or to donate, visit Abby Brill is editor of 5enses.

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