By Marlene Feagan, MA, BSN, RN-BC
Health Ministries Coordinator at St. Elizabeth Healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone throughout our communities no matter their age, gender, economic or social situation. Specifically, the impact on individuals experiencing homelessness has been severe.
Agencies they need have closed offices.
The libraries where they utilize computers have been shut down.
The shelters have made reductions in the number served.
Phones they depend on are not available.
Meals can no longer be enjoyed in the warm company of others, but instead have been reduced to carry-out only.
Sites where the homeless have been able to gather to find community have been eliminated.
They are lonely and alone.
Very clearly, COVID-19 has taken its toll on our neighbors and friends. While we do our part in slowing COVID, there is always a way we can make a difference and give back while staying safe at home during the holidays.
The Health Ministries Program at St. Elizabeth has continued to serve in the community by trying to fill needs for the more vulnerable population, bring current information about COVID-19 to them and connect them to their healthcare providers.
This is an opportunity to show our homeless population that they are valued, engage them in conversation and listen—really listen. I know that being a caring presence and giving homeless people a voice can change their outlook on life and can make them feel good about themselves.
The goal of the bags is not the “gift,” but the feeling that a homeless person will have in knowing that someone cares and that they matter. It is living out the mission of St. Elizabeth beyond our walls. It is touching the most vulnerable in our community with care and compassion during this COVID-19 holiday season.
So, I encourage you to support a local organization whose mission you believe in that helps bring much-needed aid to those struggling in our community. And as always, please keep our homeless brothers and sisters in your prayers.
If you’re unable to give financial or other tangible support, you can still boost morale. Our frontline workers have sacrificed so much this year. Writing thank you letters to healthcare heroes, like my colleagues at St. Elizabeth, is a great way to give back and provide emotional support. Plus, families can use this as an opportunity to discuss COVID-19 and its impact with their children. I know my family has had these conversations with our children and grandchildren as we have had to miss or adapt so many milestone moments, like sporting events and birthday gatherings.
No matter how you give back this season, remember that there is always something you can do to help others. For more information about give back opportunities, visit stelizabeth.com/inspirit.