The COVID-19 pandemic has created new barriers just about everywhere and the Highland County Homeless Shelter is no exception. Executive director Greg Hawkins said the shelter needs to raise $38,000 to meet its 2021 fiscal year budget of $116,853.
Hawkins also said in a news release that many changes have been made at the shelter over the past year due to the pandemic, including reducing the number of people it can house from 28 to 18 to meet social distancing guidelines.
“Financially, the shelter began seeing decreased monetary and non-monetary donations, which was understandable with so many changes negatively affecting our economy. Thankfully, the Highland County Homeless Shelter (HCHS) has not had to turn away individuals and families in need of shelter,” Hawkins said in the news release. “The shelter continues to operate with two employees, Tammy Dennis, administrative director, and myself.
“As safety precautions, the shelter ceased utilizing volunteers. Since March of 2020, the shelter was required to make several adjustments to our day-to-day operations which include creating a COVID-19 response plan and screening tool, increased sanitation, daily temperature checks for staff and employees, requiring everyone to wear masks, and reducing our client bed count from 28 to 18 to ensure a six feet separation between clients in the dorms.
To date, Hawkins said, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at the shelter. Hawkins and Dennis also started monitoring whether or not a client would like to receive a Covid vaccination when available, and are sending out vaccination reminders and offering assistance in completing the registration process.
As a private 501(c) (3) non-profit agency, Hawkins said the shelter does not receive any local tax dollars.
“Our agency is strictly grant and donor funded. Roughly 65 percent of our operating costs are funded through cash matching grants from the Ohio Development Services Agency, FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program, South Central Ohio Power Company, and several other small grants,” he said. “The remaining 35 percent of total costs are derived from local donations and fundraisers.”
Hawkins said that last year, the shelter received funding from the CARES Act grant, and that funding was reinvested back into the shelter and the community.
”The HCHS replaced our heating and cooling system to increase ventilation and filtration within the shelter to reduce the risks of COVID-19, purchased PPE, bed dividers, cleaning products, thermometers and food,” Hawkins said. “We are far from going back to normal, but we have began opening the shelter up to tours and community events, all following CDC guidelines.”
He said the shelter would like to invite the community to its Saint Patrick’s Day fundraiser being hosted by 24 Deli & Pizza on Wednesday, March 17. Ten percent of the pretax proceeds will go to the homeless shelter. It is an all-day fundraiser good for dine-in, drive-thru and delivery. A flyer must be presented and it can be found on the shelter’s Facebook page.
“I would like to personally thank the community for the kind calls and messages of support for the work being done at the shelter during these unprecedented times,” Hawkins said.