Last December, I reported to you on our BIG NEWS: DESK purchased a building to serve as New Haven’s first Downtown Drop-in & Resource Center.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to share our plans in a more in-depth manner through Zoom presentations, media coverage, and tours onsite. I’ve received valuable feedback and advice from many of you across the community, and we at DESK are so appreciative.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, our staff have been working unbelievably hard. I won’t sugarcoat it: This was the most difficult winter in our 35-year history. Not only did our volunteers and staff serve outside in below-freezing temperatures and repeated snow-storms, but we took on new initiatives to meet the challenges posed by COVID and the economic fallout.
We provided regular meals to those sheltering in hotels and warming centers, we collected, organized, and distributed more clothing and basic needs supplies for people on the street than ever before, and we worked closely with our partners to connect them to health services. (Just this week, we hosted our first vaccination clinic!)
Our people have needed us, and we couldn’t let them down.
At the same time, we’ve been preparing to launch our new Drop-in & Resource Center at 266 State Street. To get this program off the ground, we first relocated our administrative offices to the new building.
Then we conducted renovations on our first-floor drop-in center. And finally, we onboarded five new staff members to oversee, develop, and implement this new program.
The stage is set, and this Monday, we will begin offering drop-in hours at 266 State, where our Guests can get off the street, have a cup of coffee and a snack, access the internet, and get connected to services that can move them beyond homelessness.
I cannot overstate how much of this has been a community effort. The funding to make this happen primarily came through the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the United Way of Greater New Haven, the Yale Community for New Haven Fund, and Vital Strategies. We are incredibly grateful for their support!
Monday will be a “soft open” as we get used to the space, the flow of foot-traffic, and the needs of our Guests. Over the coming months, we’ll steadily and strategically expand as resources allow and the needs dictate.
To do this, we’ll need your help. Volunteers are needed to assist staff in distributing food and supplies, keeping the space clean and safe, and generally offering a friendly ear and warm smile (behind a mask!) to our Guests. Sign up online right now, or reach out to our new Program Director, Tina Paolillo, with any questions.
And of course we’ll also need your support to keep the lights on. Make a contribution today to let us know that YOU believe in a compassionate drop-in center that meets people where they are and connects them to services that offer a path out of homelessness. It takes a village.
Thank you as always,