May COVID-19 Update from Executive Director Meagan Hennekam
Image above: Shelter Manager, Caitlin Currie with Public Health Inspector, Matt.
The most important thing right now is to keep YES operating through the pandemic. YES is a lifeline for youth, who are more vulnerable now than ever.
Following direction from Peterborough Public Health
I have been on frequent phone calls and zoom meetings with Peterborough Public Health and our Emergency Shelter manager meets with them onsite once/week. They inspect the shelter thoroughly and have let us know that YES is going above and beyond to ensure youth and staff in shelter are being kept as safe as possible.
Some actions have included:
- Professional sanitization of the shelter 3 times/week
- Requiring staff to wear PPE anytime they can’t maintain physical distancing with a client or each other
- Protocol requiring use of face shields and gowns for any administration of first aid to a client
- Staff screening sign in procedure that includes taking their temperature each time they enter a YES location
We are extremely grateful to Peterborough Public Health for their close attention to YES’ operations.
Practicing extreme caution
I’m being extremely cautious, because I know that YES is the only support some of these youth have. And it is largely with your action that I am able to make these changes. None of this was in our budget, and these changes have been expensive. People like you have made youth safe by helping YES with those costs.
Something I didn’t predict
Something I didn’t predict, is how scared the youth in our RISE Youth Housing Program became in the face of COVID-19, particularly in the beginning. These young people are helped by YES staff to meet their goals in a supportive living environment, but at night, when they started feeling unwell, some of them would panic and call 911. This happened a handful of times in the early days of the pandemic.
In response to this, Peterborough Paramedics have visited YES to touch base with our young people, answer their questions and give them the facts about the virus. How it spreads, what symptoms to look for, and the best course of action if they start to feel sick. This has been great for youth and for the paramedic teams.
It takes all of us to properly support youth who are otherwise alone
YES, City Paramedics, Peterborough Public Health, local businesses, and you. If we all step up to help them through the pandemic and out of homelessness, our local youth will get the support they need to move on to a stable adulthood. That is the goal. Community members like you can help get us there.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to support this community response, YES still needs help. Youth living alone continue to need food and supplies through the pandemic. Staff supporting youth will need PPE for the next number of months to ensure they are keeping everybody safe over the course of COVID-19. Also, I need to prepare us for the possibility of a second wave.
The best way you can keep youth safe, now and in the future, is with a donation to YES. Your contribution will help make sure that the young people who are struggling, get through this very tough time.
To ensure youth and families continue to be supported through their toughest days, become a monthly donor to YES. Regular donations help me plan for the future and keep life-saving programming going for youth who need a hand out of homelessness.
Thanks to our generous community, YES is able to feed youth in the emergency shelter three meals, everyday. All of our food comes to us through donation. Through the pandemic, you can ensure that youth in the community who struggle with having enough, are getting the food they need by giving grocery gift cards to YES. These can be mailed to YES or dropped off at the shelter, anytime.
I am overwhelmed by how our community mobilizes around our most vulnerable, even when experiencing their own hardship. You understand that everybody benefits when youth and families are properly supported.
Our clients are people who have fallen through the cracks, but it is by no means too late; the youth and families at YES are incredible, resilient people. Together, you and I and our amazing team will get them through the pandemic and out of homelessness.