Back in April, we spoke with Rick DeAngelis, executive director of Good Samaritan Haven, about how the COVID-19 crisis has affected this nonprofit. We caught up with Rick to get an update on how Good Samaritan Haven has been weathering during the pandemic.
KC: A lot has changed since we first spoke back in April. What has the evolution been like of how Good Samaritan Haven operates during the time between then and now?
Rick: It’s been constant. Almost every week, every day, I feel like something fundamentally changes.
In March, we were told there was a pandemic and needed to prepare and were then instructed by the state to move the vulnerable population out. On April 1, we were told to move everybody out of shelter locations. In the course of three weeks, we moved 75 people to various motel rooms.
May and June the most normal times we’ve had in the last nine months. We were very much focused on what will happen when the motel thing ends. There was no clear direction and lots of confusing signals. During this time we tried to lease a building with federal money and came within a hare’s breath of a deal with the VCFA (Vermont College of Fine Arts) that would have been magnificent, but that fell apart.
We got grants to reopen the shelter in July. It was very confusing about if people could stay in motels and who could go to a shelter. We fumbled our way through that and by mid-August were operating at a reduced but full capacity of 15 people at our shelter.
KC: What are your fears entering into the winter season?
Rick: What will happen to all those people living on the street come winter time? Some won’t go in; some have been banned; some won’t go into our shelter. For the last two to three months I was hunting around for an overflow sight and had pretty much given up on it. A bunch of churches said no and we struck out on other places to lease and out of nowhere, more or less, Christ Church said we could use the parish hall. It will be an overflow shelter for up to 10 people.
KC: How can people support Good Samaritan Haven right now?
We’re saying no to donations of food and materials because of the pandemic. Monetary donations are great.
We have a good team here. In some ways it has reassured me about people’s humanity and compassion for each other because really, when I think about it, people are trying to help us.