Local Outreach Continues During Covid
Both the Food Closet and HELPS Ministry are providing all or almost all of the services that they were providing before Covid. The Food Closet receives financial support from the Missions Committee, most of its financial resources come from donations. All financial support for HELPs ministry comes from donations. Both the Food Closet and HELPS have been able to continue operations during the pandemic, and because of generous donations have even been able to increase services.
Food Closet: The Food Closet has modified internal operation and methods for food distribution. They continue to serve four Thursdays a month and have adjusted by having drive through distribution. In the beginning their revised system did not allow personal choice for food, but in mid-June they were able to re-introduce choices for some types of food. The number of volunteers has been reduced to provide for physical. The Food Closet has also had to devise new strategies for acquiring food as many usual sources have not been available or able to supply what they had in the past.
The financial and employment impacts of the pandemic have put more folks in need. In April through June, an average of 59 households each week have been served, many of these new to the ministry's services.
HELPS: This ministry provides one-time, modest financial assistance to Chester County residents in short-term need. HELPS counselors, Angela Linden and Rose Dodd, respond to calls to Good Sam’s HELPS voicemail, speak with people about their need (and liaise with agencies that also might be helping the client) to determine whether they meet HELPS’ criteria and decide on best ways to help. (Financial help never goes to the individual, but directly to PECO, AQUA, or a landlord.)
HELPS' data shows that requests for assistance increased 60% from the first quarter of 2020 to the second. HELPS has been able to provide assistance to 73% more people in the second quarter than the first quarter. Although the average amount of assistance to those helped is about the same (with a $300 maximum), the actual total assistance has increased by 97
HELPS counselors are seeing most of the increase from people with first-time requests; many who have been furloughed from their jobs at restaurants, home care workers, and those in janitorial services
Although HELPS Ministry began the year with half the funds they had at the beginning of 2019, generous donations have enabled the ministry to continue to help. HELPS is entirely dependent on donations; gifts are always needed, and they are greatly appreciated.