Arlington nonprofits continue serving the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Mission Arlington sits covered in snow Feb. 23, 2015. Mission Arlington is one of many nonprofits continuing to serve the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a city under strict social distancing guidelines and regulations, many businesses have shut down. From closed tattoo shops and hair salons to book stores and gyms, life in Arlington has mostly halted.

However, there’s some establishments that simply can’t shut down because of the large communities they serve throughout the city. Nonprofit shelters and services have had to adjust to meet the demands and regulations of the COVID-19 pandemic while still meeting the needs of those they serve.

Here’s a few Arlington nonprofits and a quick breakdown of how they’re coping with COVID-19.

Mission Arlington

Jim Burgin, Mission Arlington pastor and communications person, said the organization has created a drive-thru to pass out food to those in need.

He said the drive-thru, along with limiting people in the building’s front room, has helped with social distancing. Burgin also said that when people come by to drop off items for the organization, they’re met with volunteers wearing gloves and masks who unload their car for them.

“It’s working real beautifully,” he said.

Burgin said the organization has seen an increase in people stopping by for services and expects that number to increase in the weeks ahead. He said with businesses and schools closing down, the need will increase.

With the increase in services, he said the organization’s volunteers have been lighter than usual. He said people are taking the virus seriously and following the guidelines well, but the need for volunteers is always there.

However, the community has responded well to the organization’s needs and have been providing them with plenty of food and other supplies, Burgin said.

“We feel like we've got the world's greatest job because we get blessed when people give to us, and then all we do is turn around and give it away,” he said. “So we really are a reflection of our community.”

Arlington Life Shelter

Jim Reeder, Arlington Life Shelter interim executive director, said the shelter has moved its services to North Davis Church of Christ amid the virus and construction on its new/existing shelter. Arlington Life Shelter provides a variety of services to the homeless population in the city.

Construction on the renovations on the existing shelter and new shelter are still set to be completed in May, Reeder said.

At North Davis Church of Christ, the shelter can handle about 50 people, Reeder said. More people could be handled at the church, but they’re limited on space because of social distancing requirements, he said.

The shelter has gotten calls on its space availability, and in some cases they’ve had to turn people away because of limited space, Reeder said. He expects the demand to increase as businesses close amid the virus.

“There’s going to be an uptick in homeless demand here for several months, until everything gets back going,” he said.

Reeder said through all of this, the shelter’s goal is to still continue its mission and help others. He said the homeless don’t have homes to shelter in place at, and it’s the shelter’s responsibility to help where it can.

“We’re here as long as needed and even after,” Reeder said. “We’ll be right back to our regular thing after this settles down.”

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, a protestant charitable organization, has temporarily suspended its after-school program Youth Education Town, said volunteer special event supervisor Bridget Lenhardt.

Each Friday since March 20, the center has distributed home resource kits with educational materials and emergency food bags to families in need. The first week, 80 resource kits were distributed, but by last Friday, that number grew to 673 in a single day. A cumulative 1,483 food bags, 10,861 pounds, were distributed. This week, they’ll be distributed Thursday instead of Good Friday.

Anyone can be eligible to receive these resources by calling 817-860-1836, Lenhardt said.

“If they’re hungry, if they call and they say that they have a need because they need to feed their family and children, they’re able to get food,” she said.

The center is continuing its Saturday evening soup kitchen via curbside pickup and its Thursday evening food pickup.

Volunteer activities are suspended for the time being, Lenhardt said. However, the Salvation Army is accepting canned goods, dry goods and financial donations.

Arlington Animal Services

Arlington animal operations is still offering adoptions and pet reclaims, said field operations manager Dianne Tawater. Pet adoptions are being offered at discounted prices, and the center is encouraging Arlington residents to consider fostering animals.

The center is still responding to emergency calls, which include animal bites to humans, aggressive animals and sick or injured animals. Deceased pickup is still offered, as it is a sanitation issue, Tawater said.

Animal Services is no longer allowing volunteer activities, and no stray animals will be accepted until further notice.

“We’re just trying to get through this, keep the animals safe and keep the staff safe,” Tawater said.

Meals on Wheels

Jordan Lyle, Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County marketing and public relations specialist, said the organization has increased its meal service to twice a day.

Normally, clients would only receive a lunch meal, but now breakfast meals are provided as well, Lyle said. This is to ensure that clients are getting enough food, because client family members might be staying home and trying to limit contact, she said.

Volunteers are asked to take their temperature before they come to deliver meals, and are asked to stay home if they aren’t feeling well, Lyle said. A big part of delivering meals is the social interaction with the clients, but volunteers are now leaving meals by the client’s door to limit direct contact, she said.

With the increase in meals given to clients, Lyle said the volunteers have stepped up to help. She said some volunteers have asked to pick up more routes because they’re working from home or sheltering in place.

“We have seen a lot of volunteer applications come through to where we've been able to fully meet our need at this time,” she said.

@bjgarcia27

@CecilLenzen

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