UGM’s Response to COVID-19

 

The situation evolves daily, sometimes hourly. Please check this page for regular updates.

 

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.

Rest assured that Union Gospel Mission is committed to protecting our guests and the community at large. Toward that end, when in question, we have chosen to err on the side of caution.

At the same time, we want you to know we are not operating under a spirit of fear. We know from where our help comes.

“The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with him I am safe. He protects me like a shield; he defends me and keeps me safe” – Psalm 18:2.

Our approach is one of balance – faith and wisdom – and we cannot adequately express how grateful we are to have you on this journey with us.

Updates

  • 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 150; 144 men are currently checked in.

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

In order to protect our guests and the faithful volunteers who serve throughout the UGM ministry, we are asking all volunteers to stay home through the end of March. We will re-evaluate at that time. All resident and volunteer orientations are canceled until further notice. Please stay posted by phone or through the website.
 
The one exception to this is medical professionals. Our clinics will remain open for those staying in our shelters, as we do have COVID-19 testing available for our residents and staff.

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

Many staff members – particularly those in the higher risk populations – will be working remotely. You may find it slightly more difficult to reach the person you’re looking for, and we ask for your patience. Please know that we are committed to getting back to you as quickly as possible. All meetings will allow for social distancing. Most will be moved to an online format.

Physical Donations

If you have physical donations of items from our Top Needs list, we ask that you hold onto those for now. Watch the website for updates on when it is safe to deliver those items.

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