Dear Wake 507 Continuum of Care,
We are deeply appreciative of the community partners who stepped in and stepped up to help create a White Flag Emergency Shelter option especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. You are heroes and the appreciation extends to you from the CoC, the Partnership Board of Directors and staff but most of all from those who were warm on the nights when it was cold outside. The whole network of service providers is functioning beyond capacity right now and we recognize that. Yet, together, we did incredible work over the last few weeks.
Our mission, as the Partnership, is to leverage the power of community to address systemic causes of homelessness through coordinated response, education, data, and advocacy. This system-level work looks like coordinating the “white flag” community effort to identify space, food, supplies, laundry, cleaning, and security services; develop policies and procedures; coordinate volunteers from the community and trained “volunteers” from homeless service agencies that are already overburdened from the impact of COVID-19. All of this has been done in an unbelievable turnaround time to make an Emergency White Flag Shelter available for cold nights when the temperatures drop belove 35 degrees, during this pandemic year when shelters can’t just pull out extra cots for the night like they’ve done in past years.
This unprecedented effort did not come easily – it was done with the hard work of critical volunteers and colleagues. Certainly, none of us expected this many cold nights (especially in a row) this early in the winter season. We successfully been able to provide shelter for 50-87 people for over 10 nights already, with four more nights expected this week. Additionally, we have:
- Secured a single location with plenty of cots – Southeast Raleigh Table can sleep 83 for the space we have been allocated – safely distanced due to COVID.
- Secured food for both dinner and breakfast.
- Identified a handful of clearly dedicated volunteers.
- Secured both “on call” security from York Security and “on call” trash disposal from Diversified Maintenance.
- Identified funding from Wake County for “emergency shelter operations.” Budget estimate for Dec 15, 2020 – April 1, 2021 approx. $120k.
However, the Partnership is not a direct service organization and running a shelter is not within our charge. We operate at the system level to integrate and build capacity throughout the entire network. Therefore, now that the basic structure of the White Flag System has been “roughed in,” we are excited to announce that Urban Ministries will be stepping in to take over the direct shelter operations. The Partnership is actively supporting this transition and has already passed along all documents and made strategic introductions between Urban Ministry staff and key community members who have been instrumental in this effort.
We will be working together on a communications plan for getting the word out with each declaration of White Flag that will continue to include notices on our Facebook page and at the CoC meetings. More information will be forthcoming.
Here we would like to specifically thank:
- Southeast Raleigh Table, Pastor Lisa Yebuah , and Kellay Chapman for generously allowing the community to use their facility for White Flag
- St. John Metropolitan Community Church/Love Wins (Pastor Vance Haywood) for offering space, volunteers, and coordination
- Oak City Cares (Kathy Johnson, Laura, Tosheria, and team) for offering space and volunteers
- Brown Bag Ministries (David Laggarth) for both dinner and breakfast meals
- The CHE Companies (Stephen Scoggins) for donating 9 toilets which have now been installed, improving the bathroom facilities greatly
- WakeMed (Dr. Brian Klausner, Marni Cahill, Arlene Smith, the Wake Med Street Outreach team), and the rest of the Wake Med System throughout the county.
- Frances Bisby and Rick Fitzgerald for your congregational outreach efforts and for all others who helped solicit donations and recruited support
- All organizations that encouraged your staff to volunteer and each person who volunteered their time, especially those who already put in long hours as case managers and street outreach/shelter staff bringing their expertise to this forming process (Wake Med, Passage Home, Oak City Cares, Interact, Transformational Exchange, Haven House, Healing Transitions, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Urban Ministries, New Hope Baptist, Mother Teresa Catholic, First Presbyterian, and others)
- Wake County – Manager David Ellis and Housing Department Director, Lorena McDowell and their team for their resources (PODS, PPE, etc.) and allocating financial support for the ongoing operations of the White Flag shelter
- And of course, the core group of volunteers who, without their dedication, this would never have happened!
Of course, this list could go on and on! Please know that each person who helped in any way, collectively made this community-wide effort possible! This is a difficult time, but it is also one of our finest hours. Because, as a community, we came together.
In deep appreciation,