Pandemic straining Salvation Army services
Agency needing help with funding, volunteers
Last updated 8/26/2020 at 2:13pm
COVID-19 has affected numerous businesses and organizations across the country and one in particular here Havre in its services, volunteers and more.
"With COVID coming on, we are considered and have been considered an essential business, we are emergency services, so we have been a presence here since COVID started," Havre Salvation Army Emergency Services Director Trina Crawford said. "Definitely some of the changes and the things we see in COVID that are difficult for Salvation Army is that we have had to do more lodging assistance than what we normally do especially this time of year."
She said this is because the homeless people in the community normally go from couch to couch, and due to COVID everybody is shutting their doors and not allowing that to happen.
The Salvation Army, she said, has had to put people up in motels to keep them away from other people because of COVID.
"Our expenses have definitely have went way up in the lodging side of things, so that's definitely where we are struggling, is that we have to be able to help these people through it, so that has been probably one of our biggest things," she added. "The other really big thing for Salvation Army is our Reintegration into Society Program."
The Reintegration into Society Program is for people who are coming out of addictions who usually also are dealing with legal issues, and Salvation Army is a wrap-around service that helps people with housing and dealing with whatever barriers they may have be broken so that they can succeed, Crawford said.
She said part of the responsibility for people who are in the program is they have to be in out-patient treatment.
The Salvation Army is a big proponent for people to go and get what they need, she said, adding that the Salvation Army has a timeline on that program.
"The first two months is you are working on the addiction, the next two months you are working on better housing and jobs, and then the next is you are learning to maintain and that kind of thing," she said. "Due to COVID, that timeline has completely disappeared because there aren't any jobs. ... That's another thing, we've had to way overspend because I can't very well say, 'Gosh, you know, what since you can't get a job because of COVID I'm going to make you homelessness now,' so we've have to extend that housing, which is a big bill."
The Salvation Army is far over budget because of COVID, she said. If it weren't for COVID the Salvation Army would be right on budget because people would be doing better, but they haven't been able to.
The Salvation Army had to shut down all of its classes and the out-patient treatment wasn't being done as well as it should be, she added.
She said people who are dealing with these kinds of things need to have ongoing things, but that was shut down for almost two months.
"So it's just put everything super far behind, not only going to get a job so you can support yourself, but you have to be emotionally, mentally able to handle that, and if you're not getting the treatment that you need, so that has been our biggest challenges," Crawford said. She also said due to spending more money on lodging and people in the Reintegration into Society Program, the Salvation Army is about $20,000 in the red right now.
But, because of COVID, the Salvation Army wants to make sure that people are being taken care the best way they can through the Salvation Army.
"Any kind of monetary help would be great help because of that and it is 100 percent because of COVID that this has happened," she said.
The other part of it is not because of COVID, she said, it is the nature of volunteerism.
She said she has not had very consistent regular volunteers.
She is looking for volunteers who are willing to come in and maybe do some reception type work Mondays and Tuesdays, especially from about 10:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Salvation Army Thrift Store is also looking for volunteers Tuesday through Saturday, especially on Wednesdays and Thursdays, she said.
People who would like to volunteer can call the Salvation Army office at 265-6411, the Thirft Store 265-1101 or just walk in.
With COVID, the Salvation Army is still able to offer some other programs because it is considered an essential business, Crawford said.
She said the programs are using the state's safe procedures such as social distancing, wearing a mask, sanitation and so on.
"We are fully going right now, even through this COVID," she said. "... We need to be here for the presence of people.
"We've never really shut down anything except for our groups for a period of time," she added. "On our Emergency Services side of Salvation Army, the Emergency Services is emergency rental assistance, emergency lodging and that looks very different just kind of depends on the barrier. We do work with trying to stop homelessness. If we've got somebody who is homeless and they find a place that they can live in we will help them to get them out of homelessness, but also the rental assistance is to stop homelessness."
She said those are the main programs that are available, as well some utility assistance.
"The thing that the community needs to know is that we resource out first - anytime there is a need we see if we have resources in the community that help that do that kind of thing and then once they can't get the help then the Salvation Army steps in and does it," Crawford said.