LUM’s Response to COVID-19
In the months since COVID-19 became a reality, Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM) has been working to restructure its programs to better protect their clients, volunteers, and staff while still meeting the real needs of their community. Here’s a glimpse of what that means in practice.
Many of the LUM assistance programs, from the Good Samaritan Program (emergency financial assistance) to the Immigration Clinic, have switched from an in-person, walk-in model to one where as much work as possible is conducted online or over the phone. The Immigration Clinic is conducting most of its client meetings via video conferencing.
When clients do need to come to the LUM Office it’s by appointment only and they must wait outside until they are called in. Before entering the building all clients must have their temperature checked with an infrared thermometer, disinfect their hands or wash them in a portable sink, and don a face mask. They are then directed to a meeting room where a staff member or volunteer is already seated at their desk behind a clear plastic shower curtain. After each meeting, the entire area is disinfected. And all surfaces, handles, and light switches are disinfected throughout the day.
Individuals experiencing homelessness used to come into the LUM Office every afternoon to sign-up for the shelter. That process has been moved to the parking lot, and guests line up six feet apart on large Xs on the pavement. At night, before entering the shelter, all of the shelter guests must wash their hands, wear a face mask, and have their temperature checked. If a guest shows a temperature or is exhibiting signs of respiratory distress they are not admitted and the health department is alerted. All of the shelter staff follow the same procedure and also wear face shields. Social distancing is practiced inside the shelter, during meals, and while sleeping (head to foot). The entire area is disinfected each day before the guests arrive, throughout the evening, and again after they leave in the morning.
At their weekly food pantry, all staff and volunteers must have their temperature checked, wash their hands, and wear masks before entering the building. Anyone dealing directly with clients also has to wear a face shield and gloves. Food items are packed in boxes for the clients and delivered to them outside, where they stand in line six feet apart on large Xs on the sidewalk.
For their summer childcare program, enrollment has been reduced and the children are separated into groups of twenty, each of which will meet in a separate classroom. Parents are not allowed inside the building. A LUM staff member meets the parents outside when they drop off their children. Every child must get their temperature taken and be assessed for signs of illness, and they have to wash their hands and wear a mask while inside the building. As with everything else, the entire space is sanitized each day before the children arrive, throughout the day, and after they leave.