2021 Volunteer Update
Dear Friends of Crossroads,
What a year it has been! Covid certainly has changed the way we serve our neighbors, but we are grateful that throughout this year we have been able to maintain access to all of our programs and resources! Along the way we learned many lessons and encountered a lot of new opportunities to serve more effectively and more efficiently! These new approaches have proven to be providential as in recent weeks we have learned of major changes coming to Courtland St. We wanted to take this opportunity to update all of our wonderful volunteers on these exciting new developments.
Central Atlanta Progress (CAP)/Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) has major plans to renovate the Courtland Street corridor between North Avenue and Ralph McGill Blvd. This will include widening the sidewalks along that stretch of road. Work will begin in the coming weeks or months and will have quite an impact on pedestrian traffic. Ahead of this work, CAP/ADID in partnership with Atlanta’s continuum of care of homeless service providers (Partners for HOME), of which Crossroads is a partnering agency, and the Atlanta Police Department’s Hope Team, have worked to provide housing resources to all of our neighbors experiencing homelessness in these several blocks. I am proud to report that 27 individuals/families were ready to accept this resource and have moved into housing! Now, APD is working to keep any new encampments from setting up ahead of construction. This, of course, had an impact on the number of individuals we were serving through Clyde’s Kitchen. By the end of February, our daily numbers had dropped to their lowest average ever. At the same time, the number of individuals we were serving through our other programs continued to increase as more unsheltered individuals were being housed through a larger city-wide effort by Partners for HOME (456 unsheltered individuals housed in 4 months!).
With the changes coming to Courtland St., we have worked hard to connect our guests with other meal resources while our meal service is disrupted due to the expansion of the sidewalk. For those experiencing homelessness daily routines are a matter of survival, so we wanted to give them plenty of time to establish new routines before construction kept us from serving them out of the Kitchen. To this end, we changed our service up at the beginning of March and began serving just those who came to Crossroads for our other services (documentation, mail, case management, clothing, employment, housing). Then we directed all others to partners serving meals near us (Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Intown Collaborative Ministries, SafeHouse and Atlanta Mission). Next, we offered to share our extra food resources with these partners to cover any increase they incurred due to our changes (only Church of the Redeemer reported any increase). We continue to serve 50-60 meals per day to our guests. Joining the meal service with our other programming has really improved the flow of our services as it tends to create a much more relaxed environment.
The other shift we have made in order to maintain the previous volume of service out of Clyde’s Kitchen is to begin sharing food boxes with those to whom we have provided rent and utility assistance over the past 6 months. We received and disbursed a little over $1.3 million in assistance during that time to over 400 households facing eviction thanks to funds received by the City of Atlanta from the first CARES Act. (We have just received word that we will also be part of disbursing the next round of funds, and additional $1.5 million!). We are reaching out to those households who remain in need to make sure they don’t have to choose between purchasing food and paying other essential bills. We hope to be up to serving 20 households per week with food boxes by the end of April. If you are looking to make donations, one area of need with this effort will be non-perishable, unexpired food items (especially canned vegetables, fruits and meats, along with pastas).
Another opportunity these changes have presented is to expand the services we provide inside Clyde’s Kitchen to our guests receiving meals. Since we will likely be unable to return to serving a full dine-in meal until 2022, we are hoping to receive approval to make renovations that would allow us to create additional storage space, along with offices and a classroom in the dining area and lobby, all while maintaining our previous seating capacity. Now, when we return to dine-in meals, our guests who previously never took advantage of our empowerment programming will have direct access to staff and partners in the dining room! This includes previous partners like Mercy Care, Fulton Board of Health, Gateway and Housing Plus, along with some exciting new providers like MoCaFi (online banking) and Career Rise (budgeting, financial literacy). While we took an opportunity to have a volunteer team of construction workers do some needed preparation for renovations in February, we are now going through the necessary vetting and approval processes of our plans in order to move forward in the best way possible. We are in discussion with a great collaborative of construction companies called HomeAid about taking on this project at a reduced cost with the help of volunteer contractors and donated materials, so we hope to complete the process soon and announce a timeline for renovations!
I know that’s a lot of information, but I wanted to let everyone know just how much effort we are putting into expanding the ministry that takes place in Clyde’s Kitchen and to providing more than a meal for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. We want to empower each person who walks through the door of the Kitchen to be able to walk through the door of their own home! Thank you all for the role you play in making that a reality!
If you would like to donate toward this effort to improve services for our neighbors, please click the button below to give today and designate your gift “Kitchen Renovations.”