Despite unprecedented times, the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center’s mission of serving area residents in need remains unchanged.
Some CRC programs are on hold, including senior support groups and after-school programs, and the agency has put in place procedures to help ensure the health and safety of its volunteers and those being served – but the big picture continues to be meeting the needs of the community.
“It’s what we do all the time. This is not new territory other than all the precautions,” CRC executive director Bill Owens said.
Checking staff and volunteers’ temperatures, maintaining social-distancing guidelines and limiting those working in the CRC’s food pantry to paid staff are a few of the measures that have been implemented to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus while maintaining as many services as possible.
Owens said some new procedures for picking up food at the CRC pantry and for making deliveries are in effect, all with the goal of keeping volunteers and those being served safe and healthy.
Perhaps the most difficult precaution has been philosophical, though, Owens said.
“It is completely contrary to our nature to be telling people to stay away and stay home, but for the most part, that’s what we all need to be doing,” he said. “Our agency is always looking for people to come toward us, where we’re building bridges and connections among people in the community.”
Volunteers, he said, continue to provide transportation for seniors to appointments and to the grocery store, with reduced numbers in a van for every trip to ensure proper spacing.
A grant through Age Friendly Columbus and Franklin County is allowing for the preparation and distribution of “necessity bags” for older residents of the neighborhood.
“There are probably 20 new volunteers helping us make those deliveries,” CRC volunteer coordinator Aly Hartung said, adding as of April 2 about 225 such bags were being delivered every week.
Hartung said some regular volunteers have had to step away from their work for the CRC due to health concerns, but, she said, “we’ve had a ton of people step up and... substitute and fill in.”
Most deliveries are being made via doorstep drop-off, Hartung said, where drivers used to have more contact with those being served.
“We’re here to serve – that’s what we’ve always done and what we’re doing now,” Owens said, “and part of that is keeping people safe.”