Lifted Spirits: Giving Tuesday Now

I’ve missed volunteering with our homeless clients these past few months. I spent February and March recovering from major foot surgery. Within a week of taking my first steps, Santa Clara County implemented a shelter in place due to COVID-19. As the weeks went on, the restrictions increased.

Though we believe our services are essential, we couldn’t put our volunteers at risk. The majority of the women who volunteer are 60 and up. Asking a group of women at higher risk if they contract COVID-19 to volunteer to serve other high-risk women is untenable.

These past few weeks, we’ve worked behind the scenes so that we can launch Lifted Spirits Lite. While it’s a far cry from our full program of providing a hot meal and respite, a clothing boutique, and other services, it gives us a chance to do something during this difficult time.

We’ve implemented numerous safety protocols to protect ourselves and others.

I sent out the following letter to our supporters today, and I’m sharing it with you, too..

With #GivingTuesdayNow underway, I’d like to tell you about our modified program: Lifted Spirits Lite. While our facilities must remain closed due to COVID-19, our volunteers have been working diligently behind the scenes so we can continue to serve vulnerable, unhoused women in downtown San Jose.

Starting this week, we will provide homeless women a boxed lunch, prepared in a professional kitchen, two days a week. We will also distribute clean socks, new underwear, clothing, and other essential hygiene items.

While Santa Clara County continues to shelter in place, a shelter for many of our clients is quite different: it means a series of tarps in a parking lot or behind some bushes out of view. Providing what we can from behind our gate is essential.

Your gift to Lifted Spirits has a direct impact on homeless women living in our community. Please join me in lifting their spirits with a donation today.

Warmest regards,

Alys Milner
Board Vice-Chair & Volunteer
Front Door Communities,
Home to Lifted Spirits
Front Door Communities, home to Lifted Spirits, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

49 N. Fourth Street, San Jose, California 95112
(408) 600-6654
www.fdcsj.org to donate

 

 

According to Santa Clara County’s Homeless Census and Survey, there are 9,700 residents without a home. 36% of the homeless population are women.

It’s good to get back to work.

31 thoughts on “Lifted Spirits: Giving Tuesday Now

  1. Well done Alys – something is better than nothing isn’t it. My best wishes to you and your supporters in this attempt to lift some spirits in your community. Your work and caring heart must be like a beacon of light to those homeless women. We who have the privilege of being able to shelter in an enclosed, warm, hygienic and comfortable space would probably learn a lot should we choose to spend a night ‘out of sight under canvas’ just to see what the other two thirds of the earths population endures.

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  2. While for now they must forego the comfort of a smiling face and the touch of friendship, you are still working to keep body and soul together and a healthy body to house a healthy mind. Well done, Alys.

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    • Thank you, Kate. We were off to a slow start week one, but we are now up to 15 women a day and we are prepared for 30, as word gets out. It’s felt like a ghost town there, with the library, city hall, restaurants and the like all closed. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Keeping homeless people safe during the pandemic has shown up one of the fault lines in our societies. How does someone who has no access to safe places maintain social distancing and proper hygiene? I admire what you and your friends have done and are doing to help bring a little breathing space into these women’s lives. I hope that in our new world, at the end of all this, the homeless will get a better deal.

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    • I agree, Anne. I’ve been ashamed of our response to the homeless situation, and also the cruelty one hears from others about the homeless. It’s easy to make them a scapegoat I suppose. I often think that if those that are shouting and complaining the loudest, would show up and help, we would all be better for it. The old saw about walking in another peson’s shoes still holds.

      As a side note, I don’t know if I mentioned how popular scarves are in our boutique. Women wear them for warmth, for heading coverings and for a bit of style. Your scarf donation has been warmly received. xo

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  4. Your letter and the expressed kindness and generosity lifted my spirits. Also made me ever so grateful for our snug but slightly shabby home. How lucky I am to be able to safely shelter in place.

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  5. Those statistics are so heart wrenching! We have the same issues up here. Housing seems to be only part of the issue. The other part is mental health or addiction. We all try to do something somewhere to help. You do more than most. I’m glad you have found a way to continue helping through this lockdown. I want the lockdown to end but not by risking lives or livelihoods. It’s all so complex. I know too, how very fortunate I am not be another statistic.

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    • It is complex. There are many moving parts and no playbook. My personal sense is that we are opening things up too early, based on what I’m reading over and over again: we need more testing, the all-important contact tracing, and eventually a vaccine. Even the concept of herd immunity seems to be off the table as I hear more and more stories of people infected for a second time, or perhaps, not fully healthy for sometime. It’s sobering, isn’t it? Please say hello to H and your sister for me. Sending love your way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you, Alys. It’s too soon but too many more will end up living under bridges if this doesn’t find a solution. I read today that one choir member infected 52 people in 2.5 hrs. Not all are being cautious. H has permission from corporate to stay home as long as necessary to keep me safe. 😉 She’s happy. The idea of Mike having to travel again would concern me too as a man on a United flight said he was masked and gloved and still caught it. He thinks through the eyes. They don’t know enough about it yet. It is sobering. H sends love to you. I will see sis on Tues when she stops by before tests. She’s still hoping for a transplant. ;(

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  6. Glad to hear you can get back to work and helping people again. The homeless have certainly suffered a lot as soup kitchens and food banks and other facilities for them have closed around the world. Good for you Alys!

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    • It’s been dismal, hasn’t it. We’re seeing more need and fewer resources, including those available to volunteer. Many retirees are the back bone of these agencies and they all had to bale when the virus came roaring in. It’s no help that we have incompentent leadership. I’ve been dreaming of my holidays in New Zealand and wishing I could be transported to a country with such a common-sense leader.

      Thank you, Cathy!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a good response, Alys. It’s hard sometimes to figure out what to do but you went at it and figured something out. Good for you and let’s hope it helps people and gives them some hope and care.

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  8. Well done my dear! I’d imagine many support groups like this are reorganizing to provide some help which I’m certain is very welcomed. You’re a force for goodness in the world !! Keep up the spirits, hopefully things will get back to full on sooner then later ! xK

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    • Thank you, Boomdee! You’re always a wonderful cheerleader. Non-profits everywhere are scrambling to meet needs. It’s been heartbreaking seeing so much need. The positive in all this is that California is renting thousands of low-rent motels to offer shelter to homeless people who are sick or at risk for becoming sick. They’ve set up trailers at the county fairgrounds, and they’re contracting for more tiny homes. My worry is that many more people will lose their home as the number of unemployed Californians grows. I’m staying focused on what I CAN do so that I don’t get bogged down with worry. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your incentive to work out how to help in this time period, is fabulous…I think what the people we serve, be it in volunteer position or other – is of course the “needs” but also that human contact, even if it’s just a smile or a few words…

    Here in New Zealand the homeless and other displaced people have been gathered up and given shelter in motel rooms and such places…with much help to assist them to be able to take up what is offered to the rest of us. Some regions have helped them become less dependent on substances and alcohol,other social services, and many have risen to the challenges and some have been grateful that suddenly they have a real bed with blankets and a roof over their head. It is believed that trusts will assist them to be “homed” again in the future.

    Food banks of course have not just been for the homeless but those who have lost their jobs or the wage subsidy that the gov’t is providing doesn’t meet all their expenses. In my region a large indoor stadium which usually has international pop stars etc is now the marshalling point for making up food boxes for people in need…

    And my own local area f/b page occasionally asks to help various people in need…particularly as we are moving into winter time, and blankets etc are needed. People who have had babies needing supplies and so on.

    Of course there are people who take advantage…that is just a fact of life. So it’s hard when you discover that someone has provided for one of those people, and then everyone isn’t happy that they were taken “for a ride”…

    Around 3 months ago, I decided that a man I see on Wednesday in the city, could do with a hand up and I usually give him $5 note. I’ve no idea what he does with it and I’m not concerned…one time I tried to talk with him, he appears to have a speech issue, so I just smile, say hello and put it in his cup. I wonder now, if I will see him, when I finally get the green light to return to my knit/chat group…

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    • Thank you for sharing details of your community’s response to this crisis. Here, too, a number of motels are being coopted to house the unhoused. It gives everyone dignity, when they can shelter, eat, wash and feel like a human being again. I just wish it didn’t take a crisis to get here. It’s lovely of you to offer a note to that gentlemen. A number of people who are homeless find that they become invisible. It’s good to smile, engage, and do exactly what you are doing. Thank you! xo

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  10. I had been wondering what would happen to Lifted Spirits during lockdown. And also more generally to homeless people.

    The pandemic has shone a spotlight on many problems in our society which could no longer be ignored. Homelessness being one of them: asking people to stay at home when they haven’t got one is 100% impossible!

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