April 2020

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April 2020

Post by stephen »

The Chimes this month is reporting on Grace Solutions. Grace Solutions is a non-profit agency (401c3) that provides services for houseless individuals in a variety of ways. The following will give you a glimpse inside this important project started by Grace Baptist Church.

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Rev. David Robinson
Interim Pastor

Greetings my Brothers and Sisters. I hope you are well and staying connected during these difficult days. We recognize many of us are struggling with loneliness so I wish to encourage you to call or write your friends and folks in the congregation. If you would like to talk with me my cell number is 510-388-1833.

It may be helpful to contemplate how we are using our faith in these times of crisis. How is your faith being applied to the emotional and spiritual thoughts and feelings we are going through? What does it mean for God to be present with you and how are you responding? Is your faith equipped to help you stay focused and open to the workings of the Spirit? Are there obstacles or distractions that are in your way, blocking the Grace offered? Are your feelings tending towards deep seated doubts or loss of hope, due to the fears and anxieties of the day? Is your faith calling you towards compassion towards helping others?

I would suggest we each take some time in prayer and contemplation to consider how we are currently living our faith and what is helpful in our relationship with the Lord. I'd like to encourage you to write a few thoughts down on what your faith means to you now in the midst of all that we are going through. Please send me your comments. I would like to gather your thoughts and share them with the Grace Community in the near future so we can learn and grow together in our faith. If you would prefer me not to share your thoughts just let me know.
We are one Body in Christ, even though we are isolated, we are not alone. We are bound together in the one love of Jesus, each supporting the other.

Blessings of Health and Peace

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Message from Phil

Post by stephen »

Staff members greet shelter guests each evening

A Message from Grace Solutions director,
Phil Mastrocola

Grace Solutions plays a life-saving role in our community, especially during the current health crisis. We currently shelter 45 adult men and women for overnight services that include a bed, dinner, breakfast and showers. .

In truth, we struggle with the constant change in health directives and increasingly stringent protocols from county. We are only able to do this because of our great team: staff, board members, volunteers, professional support, grantors, donors.

I'd like to give thanks to:
  • 10 staff people we employ to care for the shelter clients.
  • Karen (board member) who is fixture on our team, volunteering as our unofficial procurement manager, who seems to be constantly calling me to ask "what do you need", ...when she finally is allowed inside Safeway or Walmart, after maneuvering the Covid distancing line at the front doors - and serving in the shelter in so many ways.
  • Cece (board member) for making sure the checks are getting deposited and bills paid every week.
  • Greg (board member) - who also keeps us legal with the IRS,
  • John (volunteer) for supporting us with repairs and cleaning/maintenance supplies and 'keeping things flowing', so to speak. HaHa.
  • Pastor Dave for coordinating between us and the church and for moral support when I'm in need.
  • to Penny (board chair) who has spent countless hours here learning about what we do, how we are organized in all aspects - operational funding, accounting areas + spending time volunteering to better understand the population we serve.
  • Sherie is our book-keeper and has done a great job at confronting the challenge of our bookkeeping side, given our multiple funding sources and projects.
  • Jolene has been key to assisting me with grant applications, outreach and communication with our faith community partners, donors and the world beyond.
  • Jackie Redford, one of our shelter staff, an MSW (Master of Social Work), who needed temporary work and has been a God-send.
Ongoing activity includes medical personnel coming to the shelter to do assessments on our guests to determine who are at higher risk of exposure and contracting the virus and where they might be relocated to protect them better.

The city/county are planning to open several sites from shelters to hotel rooms, portable building to trailers in order to comply with the requirement of shelter-in-place and self-quarantine.

We have started our Drop-in Shower program for those who live in Safe parks, housing without showers and those who live on the streets, (an average of 120 weekly showers).

Grace Solutions is doing important work, part of a county network of providers supporting the current crisis efforts. We can't do it without a strong team and that includes an unbelievably dedicated and committed staff - all on the front lines of disaster response that was unexpected for a group of houseless shelter workers. I am proud of all of them.

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A Message fro Jakie

Post by stephen »

Grace Solutions Winter Shelter

by Jackie Redford, MSW

Grace Solutions annual winter shelter program started its fifth year in early January and was scheduled to end on April 13th. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has affected everyone in enumerable ways, the program was extended until May 3rd in accordance with the official Santa Clara County shelter-in-place issue. Accordingly, the program continues to provide a safe space and a sense of community for many people during these challenging times.

The winter shelter program is especially aimed at those who have fallen on hard times and are looking for a temporary safe space. Due to the current governmental limitations on gatherings, the program provides shelter for up to 30 people each night. The guests that come here are familiar faces that have been in past programs. In light of COVID-19 they are part of a closed list and are committed to the nightly program. Because of an unequal distribution between male and female guests, there are 20 beds reserved for men and 10 beds reserved for women. The program includes the serving of a warm dinner, fruit and desert. Guests are provided a safe place to spend the night, breakfast and coffee in the morning, as well as the possibility to shower on three different days of the week. The program's 11 person team works in shifts 24/7 and is often supported during dinner service by San Jose State volunteers.

The shelter opens at 7 pm and after a phase of settling in, dinner is served. Before COVID-19, all of the guests would dine together, however, with the outbreak changes had to be made. Men and women now eat separately and are served dinner at their individual sleeping space. The food served at the program is made up of deliveries from Martha's Kitchen and other donations. Staff members heat up and prepare the food for the guests. It is great to hear gratitude and appreciation for the good quality of the food expressed by the guests. After dinner, staff and guests clean up the rooms together, prepare beds and get ready for the night. During this time there is also the opportunity for guests to socialize with one another as well as with the staff, and bring up potential problems or issues. Lights out is at 9 pm and a hallway curfew is in place beginning at 11 pm. In case of any problems or issues arising, there is always a late night staff member present who is relieved at midnight by the nightshift. The staff members also make sure that no unauthorized person enters the building. Some elderly female guests have especially expressed their appreciation for security at the GBC winter shelter program. The sense of safety that is generated through the reduced number of regular people as well as the 24/7 presence of available staff brings many guests some ease and comfort.

In the morning, guests are woken between 6 and 7 am and begin packing their belongings. They also have the option of taking a shower. During COVID-19, showers are available on a daily basis. Ordinarily they are offered to our guests three times a week. After breakfast guests are asked to leave the building so that the staff can thoroughly clean the building.

The outbreak of COVID-19 affected the routine of the shelter program substantially, which was hard for both guests and staff but everyone has adjusted to the new conditions. For example, the mandatory washing of hands upon entering the building first posed a challenge to coordinate but is no longer a problem. Food is now served to each guest individually and handled only by staff. Bed are 6 feet apart and no outsiders are allowed in the building.

Extra food is given in to-go boxes to people waiting outside who are not a part of the program to ensure the safety of all.

The Grace Solutions winter shelter program provides a safe space for many people and they are grateful for the community that is strengthened by coming together under enhanced hygienic measures. It provides more than just shelter from the weather; it supports a sense of connection and stability for many during these uncertain and challenging times.


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