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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

Laid Off From His New Job, One Springfield Homeless Man Navigates Changes To His Shelter

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  What do you do during a stay-at-home order if you don't have a home to go to?  In Springfield, Victory Mission offers emergency shelter for homeless men. And as the coronavirus transforms life in Greene County, it and other shelters are getting creative as they try to stay open and safe. This is the story of one local homeless man navigating that process.

 

For Eric West, things were finally starting to look up a few weeks ago.  He had a new job as a cook at a Springfield hotel and he was even able to put some money away for savings, he said.

 

Then, the coronavirus pandemic reached Greene County. He, like many others, was laid off from his job.

 

“I was just starting to get ahead with my child support and trying to save up money to get an apartment and stuff, and then everything came apart,” he told KSMU.

 

West is part of Victory Mission's First 30 Program. That's an emergency shelter  where men can stay for up to 30 days every six months. During their stay, a case manager meets with them and they look for work.

 

When the coronavirus began to spread across the country, Victory Mission's shelter went from 150 beds to 98 beds and added a quarantine room in case it was needed. According to spokeswoman Janelle Reed, 25 men moved to stay at the nonprofits's administration offices on Boonville Avenue. And the beds remaining at the main shelter have been moved farther apart. The organization has also replaced its hot meals with sack lunches for now, Reed said.

Eric West says the mandatory classes have paused, but he still has a routine.

 

Many people are still unsheltered and living on Springfield's streets. The Community Partnership of the Ozarks has established a COVID-19 Task Force to try to meet their changing needs. According to CPO, that effort includes those providing direct services, as well as advocates and the City of Springfield, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, the Greene County Office of Emergency Management, MSU Care, Mercy and CoxHealth. Victory Mission is involved in that task force.

 

Eric West says he knows many people are still on the streets right now.  He says he feels blessed he's in a shelter, rather than being one of them.

 
Victory Mission closed its clothing pantry but is keeping its food pantry open for those who need it. (Web: the number to text is 864-2219 to sign in.) The organization is also putting regular donations and volunteering on hold, but still needs some essentials. You can find more information at https://www.victorymission.com/covid19.

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