Joplin homeless shelters alter operations to limit spread of COVID-19

Souls Harbor hits capacity, Watered Gardens rearranging rooms

JOPLIN, Mo. – Julie Gray and James Wise would be out on the street if it weren’t for Souls Harbor, but while they’re thankful for the shelter, their heart aches for others without a place to call home.

“That actually bothers me a lot because I know what that’s like and to be able to see people that I’ve gotten along with, and that I’ve become friends with and they can’t come in, I guess that pains me a lot,” said Wise, a resident at Souls Harbor in Joplin since October.

Souls Harbor is at capacity. No more residents will be accepted and officials are trying to exercise social distancing, but that’s hard when multiple people are sharing the same space.No Occupancy Sign

To help, Souls Harbor has closed the food pantry and the free store where clothing donations are kept. Instead, needed items are being brought out curbside and other safety measures are being added.

“Everybody’s got masks, everybody’s got gloves, everybody is sanitizing everywhere they go. We’ve gone through gallons of sanitizer and everyone is really good about washing their hands,” said Diana Gurley, Executive Director of Souls Harbor.

Like Souls Harbor, Watered Gardens is also taking precautions to keep people safe.

“Everybody’s kinda going through a check-in, where we’re asking some basic questions of: Are you experiencing a cough or sore throat? Have you felt like you’ve had any chills or a fever? Have you traveled anywhere in the last 30 days,” explained James Whitford, Executive Director of Watered Gardens.

Watered Gardens is also taking temperatures upon check-in, limiting gatherings and educating residents on things like hand-washing and proper ways to cough while limiting the spread of germs. With so many people struggling, help is needed now more than ever.

“Missions like our are experiencing a perfect storm where you’re having volunteers that are leaving. They’re not wanting to come in and do some of the typical work they would do. The stock market of course has taken a big hit and donations are not quite what they used to be and yet the demand for service is increasing because more and more people are in need,” said Whitford.

For Wise and Gray, their faith makes this turbulent time easier.

“This too will pass. So don’t worry about it, just honestly fight through it,” said Gray.

Watered Gardens is also rearranging beds so that they face head-to-toe, so people are sleeping as far apart from each other’s faces as possible.

Watered Gardens is asking for financial donations to support shelter work and the Outreach Center. The shelter is planning on coordinating meal delivery to those in need through its program called Neighbor Connect. You can also volunteer.

Souls Harbor is still accepting clothing and food donations. The shelter is especially in need of eggs. You can reach out to Souls Harbor at (417) 623-4358 or 623-7927.