The Night Ministry is providing care packages for former residents of its Youth Housing Programs and other young people sheltering-in-place and struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The packages, featuring grocery staples such as pasta, meat, peanut butter and jelly, and nuts, are being delivered every week by Candace Musick, Youth Development Specialist, and Michelle Thomas, Youth Outreach Case Manager.
Musick and Thomas run Youth 4 Truth, the leadership development program for young people served by The Night Ministry. Musick said recent participants in Youth 4 Truth are among those they are delivering to, as well as former residents of The Night Ministry's Youth Housing Programs who have let their case managers know they need assistance. Many have lost their jobs or have been furloughed because of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, places where they might get a meal or food items, such as a drop-in center, are closed or are operating with reduced services.
Many of the young people are sheltering-in-place in their own apartments. "Michelle has also been in contact with people that are riding the trains or coach surfing," Musick said.
Brittany Caine-Conley, The Night Ministry's Community and Congregational Relations Coordinator, and Miranda Dean, Resource Coordinator, sort through donations for food for the packages, which are supplemented by grocery shopping trips made by Youth Programs Director, Betsy Carlson. Musick and Thomas then box them up and deliver them every Wednesday, following social distancing protocols.
"We let them know when we are outside their place and then set the package down on the sidewalk so they can come out and get it," she said.
"If we've spoken with someone who needs food assistance who lives farther away, we are sending them gift cards," Musick said.
Musick said she and Thomas are finding other ways to help during the pandemic.
"I think the hardest part for many of the young people is just feeling really cooped-up with no real end in sight," she said. "We do a video call once a week with recent Youth 4 Truth graduates to provide some structure and give them something to look forward to and a way to connect."