How is coronavirus affecting Boston’s nonprofits?

As Boston prepares to flatten the curve of coronavirus through social-distancing, school closures and restaurant shutdowns, Mayor Martin Walsh yesterday launched a fund to support nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.

The Boston Resiliency Fund will support organizations providing essential services to Boston residents during the pandemic. For now, the priority is to help those that serve meals to Boston’s children and seniors, are equipping Boston Public Schools students with technology to continue schooling remotely, and safeguarding the health of medical professionals on the frontline. Walsh’s office also said that as the pandemic evolves the type of nonprofit eligible for funding may include those not providing “immediate support and relief.”

“In the face of big challenges, our city shows its true colors. We’ve been seeing incredible acts of kindness and generosity and the Boston Resiliency Fund is a perfect example of that,” said Walsh, in a statement released by his office March 16. “Through this fund, we are coordinating Boston’s philanthropic efforts to support families that are facing the greatest need right now. I want to thank everyone who has already contributed, and look forward to seeing how we will all come together during this critical time of need to support one another.”

The fund has already received nearly $10 million in donations from private companies and individuals, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dunkin, Red Sox Family Foundation and Robert Kraft.

Applications for support from the Boston Resiliency Fund can be made at the City of Boston’s website.

How are nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 and what services are they still providing?

Throughout this period and despite the disruption, many people will still require the social, legal, health care and housing services that many nonprofits provide. To help make sure these are still accessible, we will update this page regularly with the latest information from nonprofits in and around Greater Boston. If you are an organization that would like to publicize your new operating guidelines please complete our short questionnaire at the bottom of this page and we will include you on this list.

Pine Street Inn

Pine Street Inn is still operating, but with only essential staff, as many are working remotely. All their services are still available, including shelter. Volunteer activities have been cancelled.

Starting today, Boston Health Care for the Homeless will be screening every guest who enters the Pine Street Inn shelters, to see if they are displaying symptoms or have recently travelled abroad. Those exhibiting symptoms will be brought to a location away from Pine Street Inn to undergo quarantine. They are also bringing in an outside cleaning service to keep all their buildings as clean as possible. They have stored a 30 day supply of food, and brought in extra hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations, and will be encouraging guests to keep their hands clean.

“This is an unprecedented health threat and we are greatly concerned about our community,” said Pine Street President and Executive Director Lyndia Downie. “We continue to put precautionary measures in place, working closely with public health partners as we take action to keep our staff, guests and tenants safe.”

Rosie’s Place

Rosie’s Place will continue to provide shelter, food and meals as usual. Executive Director Leemarie Mosca says that anyone presenting symptoms of COVID-19 will be given medical assistance at the Rosie’s Place on-site Wellness Center. Employees are being told to stay home if they are ill, and all non-essential volunteers, interns and visitors are asked to keep away from the premises. Organization employees are also increasing their cleaning efforts in the building, and making sure guests and staff wash their hands frequently.

“The simple fact of poverty has always increased health risks and during a crisis, these risks are disproportionately elevated,” Mosca wrote in a letter to the public, posted on the organization’s website. “Therefore, we must implement safeguarding measures to protect our guests.”

Greater Boston Food Bank

They are accepting donations and volunteer applications. Volunteers who have traveled outside of the U.S. in the last 14 days, or been in close contact with someone suspected of contracting COVID-19 are being asked to stay away from their 70 South Bay Avenue location for two weeks. All visitors must sanitize their hands when they enter the building, and many employees are working from home. Extra cleaners have also been hired and sanitation stations erected throughout their facility. Leadership will continue to meet daily to discuss the situation and make operational decisions accordingly.

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center

Survivors currently receiving counseling, legal and case management services will continue receiving them remotely, either online or by phone. Survivors looking to begin services should submit a request online or by phone at 617-492-8306. Their hotline is operating as usual, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-841-8371 and online 9:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m. at barcc.org/chat. Incarcerated survivors can call their hotline seven days a week. Hospital accompaniment services have been suspended until further notice. Survivors at the hospital can connect with an advocate over the phone and use their hotline to ask any questions about the sexual assault exam and evidence collection. For more information, visit surviverape.org or speak to the Forensic Information Line at 866-463-3799 on Mondays 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. and Thursdays 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Samaritans

The suicide prevention organization has amended some of its programs. SafePlace meetings and Survivor-to-Survivor Network visits have been suspended until further notice. They are working to provide a virtual space in which these meetings can take place and hope to begin this service next week, when links will be available on their website. In-person suicide prevention workshops have been suspended, replaced by webinars for now.

Samaritans’ 24-hour helpline remains open for calls and texts at 877-870-4673. Volunteers will man the phones remotely.Their Boston Marathon team still plans to run on the rescheduled date of September 14, and Samaritans are calling for continuing support and donations.

Fenway Health

Effective today, the community, not-for-profit medical center has decided to close all of their Boomerang thrift store locations for shopping and making donations.

At each of Boston’s three Fenway Health Centers — located on Boylston Street, Berkley Street and Kneeland Street — public health services that put patients in direct contact with health professionals have been suspended. This includes sexual health prevention, behavioral health and housing services, as well as the closure of the homeless youth drop-in center, Youth On Fire. These measures will continue until Friday, April 3, when staff will re-evaluate the situation and decide to resume normal services or not.

Syringe and NARCAN distribution will remain in operation at their locations in Jamaica Plain, Cambridge, and through their mobile outreach van. Those in need may receive a one-month supply to reduce the frequency of their visits.

Fenway Health staff, clients, and patients will be briefly screened when entering their locations to prevent the spread of the virus in these buildings.

“Fenway Health is uniquely qualified to provide expertise and leadership during a public health emergency of this nature. It is a responsibility and opportunity we take very seriously. We will continue to keep the entire Fenway Health community informed about developments as they unfold,” staff wrote in a blog post on their website.

Alcoholics Anonymous

The Central Service Committee of Eastern Massachusetts have issued a statement informing members that most meetings have been cancelled. According to the most up-to-date meeting schedule available, six in-person meetings will continue to take place in Boston at the following locations:

  • Committee headquarters: 12 Channel Street, Suite 604
  • Arlington Street Church
  • 74 Kilmarnock Street
  • Good Voyage Church
  • Park Street Church
  • Emmanuel Church

The the full list of all meetings still scheduled in Eastern Massachusetts, see their website.

Ethos

They will continue to support the elderly and disabled living at home, although programs, classes and events have been rescheduled or cancelled.

While ten of their Community Cafés have been temporarily closed — find out which ones have been shuttered on their website — food will still be available for the elderly. Grab and Go meals will be sold at several of their cafés at these locations. Seniors aged 60 or older may be eligible to receive Meals on Wheels, or home delivery, which can be arranged by calling 617-477-6606 or visiting their website. Social distancing and self-quarantining in the elderly community has led to a rush on requests for Meals on Wheels, so Ethos are calling for cash donations to help them continue to provide senior with hot meals. If you would like to make a donation you can do so on their website.

At their location in Jamaica Plain, employees or volunteers who feel sick are being urged to stay at home. Staff will no longer attend external work-related conferences, seminars or events in person and should practice social distancing, keeping 6 feet between people at all times.All work-related foreign and domestic travel (other than home visits) have been suspended and staff are encouraged to avoid personal international travel. Those who do go abroad are being asked to self-quarantine for two weeks before returning to work.

“We are confident that these measures, along with Ethos’ strict approach to health and safety, will enable us to protect our most vulnerable populations as we continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation.” said Ethos CEO Valerie Frias, in a statement on their website. “Rest assured that all of us here at Ethos are committed to keeping those we serve healthy and safe, continuing to provide the services that allow them to maintain their independence.”

City Life

The organization closed its Jamaica Plain offices Tuesday, and will continue it’s housing advocacy work remotely. They are setting up a phone hotline where people facing displacement can speak with a City Life organizer or an attorney over the phone. All weekly meetings will keep happening, but they will be virtual on Zoom or a phone call. The March 18 meeting in East Boston will be for in-person legal support only, for those who have a court date coming up.The organization is also demanding a moratorium on evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.

“No person should have to choose between saving their home and being exposed to any virus, especially folks with the least resources,” organization officials wrote in an email that was sent out to supporters. “No person should have to choose between exposing their loved ones and neighbors and keeping their home. And no one should have to lose their home due to the pandemic’s impact on their income.”

Animal Rescue League of Boston

Concern over animal health during these days of quarantine and self-isolation is on the minds of pet owners. Those stuck at home alone may want a companion to weather through the next few weeks. The Animal Rescue League of Boston has an updated page on commonly asked questions, and actions they will be taking to prevent further spread of illness while caring for Boston’s animals.

In addition to increased disinfecting and cleaning of their facilities, they are asking those who have traveled overseas in the last two weeks, have had contact with someone who might be positive, or are feeling ill to not visit their Animal Care and Adoption Centers. For those with veterinary appointments with Boston Veterinary Care, they suggest rescheduling appointments by calling (617) 226-5605. Furthermore, starting March 17, the Animal Rescue League will be operating by appointment-only on Tuesdays through Sundays 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., allowing for effective social distancing.

Adoptions aren’t out of the picture. By calling (617) 426-9170, people interested in interviewing for adoption can set up a time to either do the interview over the phone or set up an in person meeting.

Veterinary precautions include waiting in a car in the parking lot and calling when arrived, not coming into the building at all, paying by phone and waiting in the car while the animal is being examined.

All programs, including dog training, the “spay waggin’”, the “wellness waggin’” and volunteer or foster orientations are cancelled through May 1. At this time, people can’t make any future bookings for these programs, but those who have made appointments can call for a fee refund.

GLAAD

GLAAD signed an open letter written to US public health officials to remind them that the LGBTQ+ community has an increased vulnerability to COVID-19 due to higher tobacco use, higher rates of those who are immunocompromised, and reluctance to visit doctors due to discrimination and “unwelcoming attitudes.” They continue to stand in support of the communities and their health needs in these anxious times.They also outlined a list of many things the media and public health officials should do to best protect the LGBTQ+ communities, like including LGBTQ+ folks in messaging and ensuring that LBGTQ+ health centers receive the funding they need.

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