This update comes in unprecedented and most perturbing times. We in the Samaritan House community hope you are staying well and coping. There are glimmers of light emerging and I think we can look to the future with quiet optimism, but our city and country will in many ways be forever changed.
COVID-19 has had significant implications for Samaritan House. The issues surrounding the safety and well-being of our guests and volunteers became paramount during March, together with the challenges of keeping the house itself clean to the much higher standards the pandemic situation demanded.
As a consequence, after much consideration and discussion with SalvoConnect, the Board reluctantly made the difficult decision to temporarily close the nine-bed house as of March 31. A significant mitigating factor in this decision was that the guests in residence at that time have been re-housed for the time being - with assistance from the State Government - in motel accommodation or the like so these men are not sleeping rough.
However, on a positive note the Kevin Dillon Cottage – used for longer term guests and which can house up to four guests - will remain open but with a maximum of two residents.
The Board is continuing to closely monitor the situation and we plan to re-open in full as soon as we are practically able, hopefully early in the third quarter of 2020. Re-building and supporting our volunteer base will be an important part of this.
In the meantime, as indicated in our Christmas newsletter, the Board has been active in building the first of our Independent Living Units (image below) in collaboration with Deakin University and FormFlow. This unit has come up extra-ordinarily well. We are hoping to build seven units in total and applications for government support have been made.
We are also incredibly fortunate to have had one of the founders of Samaritan House, Sheila Mansfield OAM, make a substantial donation to build one of these units. This unit will be named in her honour.
If you are interested in supporting this project in any way, we can send a brochure to you with more details – just email me on email@example.com
Your previous support for the work of Samaritan House Geelong with homeless men has been outstanding, particularly with our Winter Appeal. The funds raised in this annual appeal are directly applied to service provision in the following year, so funds donated this year will go directly to housing and supporting homeless men in the 2020/21 year. Demand for our service will most likely be at a high level for some years to come.
So while our service is temporarily suspended, we still will need – possibly more than ever - your support for Samaritan House as we look to re-open as soon as possible in coming months.
If at all possible, we would greatly appreciate your consideration of a donation for this year’s Winter Appeal. Donations, which are fully tax deductible, can be made through our website.
On behalf of my fellow Board members, thank you for ‘being there’ for Samaritan House and for your support. We hope you stay well during these extra-ordinary times.
Keith Fagg OAM