UGM’s Response to COVID-19

 

Our mission doesn’t change 
– even in times of crisis.

 

“I’ll tell you what it means. It means I’m safe. And I’m clean. And I’m protected. And I’m in a community environment so it’s not like I’m alone. And we have a lovely staff, so to me, it’s the best place to be on this earth right now.” – Heidi on life at the UGM Crisis Shelter during this time

As you know, people who have experienced homelessness are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Many of the guests in Union Gospel Mission shelters have asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and other underlying health conditions, putting them at high risk.

Because of your generous support, UGM is in an excellent position to care for and protect our guests. Our food is produced onsite in commercial kitchens. We have a free medical clinic at each shelter, staffed by professional volunteers. Most of our shelters have sufficient space to allow for social distancing and even isolation of affected individuals. Cleanliness and sanitation have always been one of UGM’s top priorities, and we have taken already high standards to a whole new level in recent weeks.

We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for ensuring that people without a home have a safe place to go.

Give Today.

Updates

  • June 30, 2020

    UGM shelters remain free of any confirmed case of COVID-19. Praise God!

    Due to the face mask requirement that went into effect last Friday (6.26.20) and the subsequent confirmation that shelter guests are included in that directive, UGM needs more cloth masks. Ideally, we would like to give each guest two to three masks in order that they might wear them, launder and wear them again. Handmade, cloth masks of any type are welcome. Deliver to 1224 E Trent Ave. in Spokane or 196 W Haycraft Ave. in Coeur d'Alene. Thank you!

     

  • June 2, 2020

    Good news! We are again able to accept donations at the shelters! Food should be delivered to 1224 E Trent Ave. in Spokane or 196 W. Haycraft Ave. in Coeur d'Alene. Donations of goods - clothing, small household items, hygiene products - may be made to the shelters, and furniture and other larger items may be delivered to the Thrift Stores. 

    UGM shelters remain COVID-free!

    We still need more cloth masks. Deliver to 1224 E Trent Ave. in Spokane or 196 W Haycraft Ave. in Coeur d'Alene.

     

  • June 1, 2020

    UGM shelters remain COVID-free!

    We still need more cloth masks. Deliver to 1224 E Trent Ave. in Spokane or 196 W Haycraft Ave. in Coeur d'Alene.

    The Men's Shelter continues to operate at a reduced capacity of 120 due to physical distancing requirements. We have generally had around 10 beds available each night.

    The Men's Shelter continues to provide bagged to-go meals to the public at 12 noon and 6 p.m. daily. As of May 25, we are checking in clients throughout the day.

    The Crisis Shelter also continues to operate at a reduced capacity of 80 total clients but is always accepting emergency and domestic violence check-ins. All guest services remain the same as before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.

    UGM Recovery facilities opened back up to new clients at the beginning of May. Individuals seeking recovery services may inquire about the intake process by calling one of the facilities.

    UGM Thrift Stores are open for shopping and donations.

    UGM Motors Service and Sales are open by appointment.

    UGM Medical Clinics have had to reduce services due to a limited number of volunteer providers. Services are currently for checked-in clients only.

    UGM Youth Outreach is currently operating in a modified capacity. There are no services provided at the Student Impact Center; however, staff is connecting with youth via social media and video conferencing services in addition to making limited home visits. Summer Camps will be modified based on guidance from Washington State.

    UGM is grateful to Joel Brown, Director of Ministries, for keeping UGM abreast of all health and government recommendations.

  • May 22, 2020

    UGM shelters remain COVID-free!

    With men and women coming and going from our shelters, UGM is running low on cloth face masks. We are putting out a call to the community for more. Double-layered fabric preferred. Drop off at 1224 E Trent Ave. in Spokane or 196 W Haycraft Ave. in Coeur d'Alene.

  • May 21, 2020

    UGM shelters remain COVID-free!

    In accordance with the Spokane Regional Health District's recommendation that people wear masks in public places, UGM has posted signs asking staff, volunteers and other visitors to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible. Thanks to the community members who stepped up to make masks for us during the early days of the crisis, we have sufficient cloth masks for all staff and residents, in addition to a supply of extras at the front desk.

    The Thrift Stores are now open for donation drop-0ffs only. The Stores remain closed to shoppers. The shelters are still closed to donation drop-offs at this time.

     

  • May 7, 2020

    Praise item: UGM shelters remain COVID-free!

    As an essential service, UGM has started the slow, careful process of returning to full operation. While the shelters remained fully functional throughout March and April, many staff members were working from home, and all volunteers had been asked to stay home. Beginning this week, staff have largely returned to work with the exception of those  with compromised health. Next week, starting on Monday, May 11, volunteers are being invited to return as they feel comfortable.

    Numerous safety precautions are in place: all staff and volunteers must be screened when they first arrive at UGM facilities; frequent handwashing; frequent sanitizing of high-touch areas; social distancing and masks as appropriate.

    UGM Motors and UGM Thrift Stores are once again picking up donations. (Call 509.532.3815 to schedule.) Furniture cannot be picked up at this time as we will have only one person in each truck. UGM Motors is open by appointment. UGM Thrift Stores remain closed. Donations cannot be accepted at the stores or the shelters, but we do have two drop-off locations accepting clothing and household goods: Storage Solutions on S. Cheney Spokane Road in Spokane and Storage Solutions on N. Harvard Rd. in Liberty Lake. Vehicle donations may be dropped off at UGM Motors.

    We are accepting commercial food donations and medical/PPE donations. We are not accepting food donations from individuals.

    The warehouse at the Center for Women and Children in Coeur d'Alene is accepting donations of all kinds.

    Baby steps. And we are grateful.

  • April 23 2020

    We are thrilled to report that UGM shelters still do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19. In fact, there has not been a confirmed case within the entire shelter system in Spokane. (Seattle has not been as fortunate, so please pray for the homeless population and shelters there.)
    • UGM Shelters and Recovery Centers continue to be vigilant with screening new clients and staff.  We have had a number of illnesses over the past six weeks go through our facilities; however, none have been COVID-19.  Praise the Lord!
    • UGM shelters continue to operate at reduced capacity to abide by social distancing requirements and with reduced services based on these adjustments. 
    • UGM Recovery Centers continue to operate and have modified their programs to allow for continued operation.
    • UGM enterprises have closed or significantly modified operations to abide by the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. 
    • UGM continues to be blessed by increased food donations, although they have reduced in volume closer to normal operations.  We have also been blessed by a continued flow of homemade masks and access to other PPE items through the City of Spokane, vendors and donors.
    • The City of Spokane has opened a temporary emergency shelter on the 1st floor of the Downtown Library.  This shelter is being utilized to relieve overcrowding at the Cannon Warming Center and Hope House.  This will allow for those two shelters to more closely or fully abide by the SRHD social distancing requirements for shelters. If there is space after transferring clients from the Cannon Warming Center and Hope House, beds will be opened up to the general homeless population.  This will  help protect the entire homeless population.
    • The City of Spokane has also opened a community isolation facility at the Spokane County Fairgrounds for symptomatic individuals who can’t self-isolate were they live.  This is primarily being used for the homeless population but is open to others.  Currently, the Guardians Foundation is operating the facility, but a long-term contract will be issued this month for a long-term operator.  The facility provides 24/7 medical care and treatment for individuals. 
    • Connected to the city’s isolation facility is the SRHD Triage Teams, which are up and running as of 4/13/2020.  These teams consist of medical providers who circulate throughout the shelter system on a daily basis to help screen clients, identify those with symptoms, and transport them to the isolation facility if needed. 
  • April 14, 2020

    Auxiliary meetings for May have been canceled for both Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.

  • April 13, 2020

    On this day after Easter, we have much for which to be thankful:

    • No confirmed cases of COVID-19 at UGM shelters.
    • The Spokane and Coeur d'Alene communities continue to bless UGM with support.
    • UGM’s finances are sound.
    • UGM has been able to bless others with the excess perishable food God has provided.
    • UGM has been provided wise medical guidance in our clinic coordinator Annie Crain and her team of volunteer medical professionals.
  • April 6, 2020

    Thankfully, not much has changed since our last update. As of today, UGM’s shelters still have no confirmed cases of COVID-19.

    UGM has heard from the police department and the media that cases of domestic violence are on the rise. UGM desires to do everything possible to help individuals fleeing domestic violence and is even now preparing for how we might accommodate additional numbers as the quarantine continues for another month. 

    In accordance with guidance from the CDC, UGM is encouraging residents and staff to wear a cloth face mask when in public or when they are unable to maintain a six-foot distance from others. We are very grateful to the wonderful volunteer seamstresses who have stepped up to provide these masks for us. (More on face masks can be found on the Washington State Department of Health website.)

    Following is an overview of some of the precautions that have been implemented at UGM since the coronavirus reached the Inland Northwest.

    Late February – Good hygiene and clean facilities have long been top priorities at UGM, so we were starting from a solid foundation. From the earliest days of concern over the coronavirus reaching our area, UGM Director of Ministries Joel Brown has been in close communication with local health and government officials regarding best practices.

    Early March – UGM canceled its Annual Gathering, Easter Service and Auxiliary meetings.

    For their own safety and the safety of UGM residents, volunteers were asked not to come to UGM. At-risk staff (those who were older and/or immune-compromised) were also asked to stay home.

    We implemented additional educational measures around good hand-washing practices and posted signage throughout our facilities. Anyone experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms was asked to self-isolate.

    To prevent cross-exposure, the shelters were closed to the public. Bagged lunches and dinners are available to men, women and children not staying in UGM shelters at the east entrance of the Men’s Shelter.

    Classes, mealtimes and other meetings have been staggered or moved online to prevent group gatherings of 10 or more.

    Because the virus was found to have a fairly long life on surfaces and objects, UGM stopped accepting donations of household items, furniture and clothing. Food donations are being accepted from commercial entities only.

    March 20 – UGM reduced its capacity at both the Men’s Shelter and the Crisis Shelter in order to facilitate greater distancing between beds. Beds were spread into overflow areas to ensure adequate space. No one was asked to leave, but as people left, their beds were not filled.

    When the City asked all shelters to operate on a 24/7 basis, UGM requested that residents limit off-site appointments and avoid traveling to other shelters.

    March 26 – In accordance with Governor Inslee’s executive order to stay home and stay safe, UGM Thrift Stores and UGM Motors’ sales lot were closed. As an essential service, UGM Motors Service Department remains open.

    All UGM shelters are operating in accordance with Spokane Regional Health District Guidelines.


  • March 25, 2020

    The Negative Split has been postponed until September 27. It's still a 5k, 10k, and half marathon, still in Kendall Yards, still benefits UGM and Second Harvest; and our sponsored runners and residents are still participating - just moved to a safer time frame. Hope you'll join us!

    UGM Motors - Due to Governor Inslee’s executive order to stay home and stay safe, UGM Motors will be closed at the end of business today until further notice. As an essential service, the repair department will re-open.

  • March 24, 2020

    As of Tuesday, 3/24/2020, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any UGM facility.

    UGM Men’s Shelter - Last week, in an effort to minimize the number of men grouped together in one place, the UGM Men’s Shelter had been asking men to leave the building during the day. However, in accordance with the City’s request that all shelters operate 24/7, the Men’s Shelter will cease this practice starting on Wednesday 3/25/2020. We will work to maintain social distancing within the building’s limitations.

    The Men’s Shelter capacity has been reduced to 120 in order to provide adequate space between beds. No one has been asked to leave. We will accept new check-ins up to this capacity. Our priority is to keep the guests staying with us healthy and safe.

    Bagged to-go meals will be served to the public at 12 noon for lunch and at 6 p.m. for dinner at the East door of the Men’s Shelter on Denver Ave. (These meals are available to men, women and children.)

    The Crisis Shelter for Women and Children - Capacity at the Crisis Shelter has also been reduced to allow for more space between beds. Current capacity is 40 single women and 20 women with children for an average of 80 total guests at any one time. No one has been asked to leave.

    The Crisis Shelter will accept new intakes up to that capacity. Again, our priority is to keep the guests staying with us healthy and safe.

    All UGM shelters will operate in accordance with Spokane Regional Health District Guidelines.

    Thrift Stores - Due to Governor Inslee’s executive order to stay home and stay safe, the UGM Thrift Stores will be closed at the end of business on Wednesday, 3/25/2020 until further notice.

  • March 23, 2020

    As of Monday, 3/23/2020, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any UGM facility.

    The Crisis Shelter for Women and Children - Under guidance from the Health Department, the shelter is again accepting new intakes.

    The Men’s Shelter - No one has been asked to leave the shelter, but a number of individuals have left voluntarily, bringing the total number of checked-in guests below our virus-reduced capacity total of 120. The UGM Men's Shelter is accepting new intakes up to that capacity. A quarantine area has been created.

  • March 20, 2020

    Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any UGM facility.

    However, additional precautions have been added:

    The Crisis Shelter for Women and Children has closed to new intakes out of caution related to a number of individuals being tested for COVID-19.

    The Men’s Shelter has closed to new intakes due to reduced capacity after adjusting beds to comply with social distancing requirements.

    Clients who were already in the shelter have not been asked to leave and will still retain their beds. As clients have checked out, we have not filled their beds. Our current capacity is limited to 120.

    Day services at the Men’s Shelter have also been canceled due to an inability to abide by social distancing requirements in our day room.

    Bag lunches are still being provided at the east door of the Men’s Shelter. Dinners are also still being provided - both to checked-in guests and as to-go meals to the public.

    Shelter guests are being asked to leave the shelter at 7 a.m. (after breakfast) and return at 6 p.m. They are allowed to stay on our property and hang out in our park, as long as they abide by CDC social distancing recommendations - the six-feet rule and no groups of 10 or more.

    Those who are medically fragile or unable to leave the facility are being accommodated.

    The shelter is using this time when guests are not in the building to thoroughly clean the facility.

    All of our Recovery Centers have suspended the intake of new clients at this time.

  • March 17, 2020

    UGM Thrift Stores have shortened their hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    UGM Motors has shortened its hours: Monday—Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. UGM Motors retail service department will be closed until March 31, at which time we will reassess the situation.

    Physical (non-food) Donations: In an effort to protect both our guests and the community who supports us, we ask that you please hold off on delivering donations to UGM shelters and/or Thrift Stores until after March 31. If you are interested in donating a vehicle, please call 509.532.3815. If possible, we would like to hold off on picking up that vehicle or having you deliver it until the end of March. In urgent situations, accommodations can be made to pick it up earlier.

    Food Donations: We are unable to take food donations from individuals at this time. Donations from commercial facilities are still being accepted. Food donations that are delivered to UGM will be held for 72 hours as a cautionary measure against spreading the virus.

    Shelter accommodations: In order to abide by the recommendation to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people, UGM has asked guests at the Men’s Shelter to exit the building during the day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The layout of the Men’s Shelter does not allow us to keep people separated at the recommended distances. UGM is still providing a safe place to sleep, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Getting outside into the fresh air – out of close proximity to other individuals – is actually considered to be a good preventive measure. The three UGM shelters for women and children are set up to allow for appropriate social distancing.

  • March 12, 2020

    UGM’s Annual Gathering Postponed. In light of Mayor Woodward’s recent request that organizations consider contingency plans for large events in the Spokane area and health experts’ assurance that the coronavirus is present, although as yet unconfirmed, in our area, UGM leadership has decided to postpone its 2020 Gathering until October. It is our desire to do all we can to protect the vulnerable populations in our midst, and by making this decision several weeks out, we will be able to exercise good stewardship with regard to the venue, the keynote speaker, flight plans, etc.

    We hope you will plan to attend the event on the new date - October 13, 2020 – lunch and/or dinner – at the DoubleTree Hotel in Spokane City Center.

Guests

With so many people (many with compromised immune systems and respiratory issues) living in one space, we are anxious to keep the virus out of our shelters if possible. Staff and guests are practicing social distancing and minimizing group gatherings. As a result, many activities, classes, chapel services and mealtimes have been adjusted accordingly. No guests have tested positive for the virus at this time, but should that happen in the future, quarantine accommodations are being arranged.
 
Capacity levels have been reduced to meet social distancing expectations – contingent upon directives coming from federal, state and local authorities – but no one has been turned away at this time. Currently, the Men’s Shelter capacity has been reduced from 185 to 120.

Public

As of 7 p.m. on March 16, all UGM shelters will be closed to outside visitors. Individuals may continue to check in to stay at the shelters, and we will continue to serve the public to-go lunches and dinners at the Men’s Shelter guest entrance – east side of the building, 1224 E Trent Ave.

Volunteers

Updated on May 12: We have invited high-impact volunteers to return as they feel comfortable. Multiple safety precautions are in place: Staff and volunteers have their temperature taken and answer screening questions upon arrival. Social distancing is in place and masks are available when social distancing is not possible. Frequent handwashing is recommended for everyone.

Meals

To minimize the possibilities for spreading the virus, meals will be transitioned to individualized portions wherever possible. Mealtimes will also be staggered as needed to limit the number of people in one room at the same time. Staff and volunteers are asked to bring their own meals from home.

Staff

Updated on May 12: Most staff are back in the office with the exception of those in vulnerable populations. Staff are self-isolating when not in the office and complying with the safety precautions listed above. All meetings will allow for social distancing. Some will be done through online formats.

Physical Donations

Updated on June 17:  Check our donation page for donation guidelines, collection sites, and scheduling.

What You Can Do

Please pray. Pray for peace. Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself in clear and tangible ways throughout the ministry. Let our residents be witness to beauty of Christ’s Body coming together. Pray that the virus would not enter our shelters. Pray for increased patience as people live near one another with the possibility for tension and frustration.

 

Give financially. Our shelters will certainly be adversely affected by the virus – the reduction of volunteers, increased food costs and the addition of precautionary measures. If you feel called to give a little extra, we would be grateful.

Resources

For additional information, please visit these reliable sources:
Center for Disease Control
Washington State Department of Health
Spokane Regional Health District