LUM Emergency Shelter – the COVID-19 Response
Even before Indiana issued the Stay-At-Home order, LUM and other community agencies sprang into action to address the realities of the pandemic. Portable sinks were purchased, others were donated. Masks were hand-made and distributed free of charge. Extra protocols were put into effect, such as cleaning, sanitizing, taking nightly temperature checks, and practicing social distancing. And, as has been the case since it began in 1984, the LUM Emergency Shelter never missed a night of offering a safe, warm, secure place to those experiencing homelessness in our community.
In the first eight months of 2020, LUM has provided over 5,500 overnight stays to 489 individuals, with four of those months in the midst of a global pandemic. All of the adaptation to COVID-19 realities has not been without cost. Additional cleaning supplies and equipment have been purchased and used. Volunteerism almost disappeared entirely during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. Additional paid staff hours have filled the volunteer gap.
Nonetheless, LUM has continued to address the complex problems facing our guests who are chronically homeless. Addiction, mental illness, emotional and physical disabilities, and unwise choices — all exacerbated by the anxieties of the pandemic — have never been harder to overcome. But the LUM staff members, now led by the new LUM Emergency Shelter director, Briton Weise, have resiliently served our guests, helping the guests to see brighter future possibilities.