What does it mean to be “essential”?
While we gather digitally for worship, fellowship, and church business, our UCUCC building is serving those whose work has been deemed essential by state and local governments. Several vital programs such as Teen Feed, the Child Learning and Care Center, and University District Youth Center?have kept the building in continuous use and our custodians have been hard at work helping us hold this space of hospitality for our most vulnerable neighbors. To keep our building open for these programs and for the safety of our custodians, we must limit all other access to the building. If you have keys or a key card, please contact Kyna Shilling, Director of Finance and Operations, before using it to enter the building for any reason as the protocols for maintaining our space are under constant review.
These partnerships help us to live into our vision for justice in our wider community, and we wanted to share with you some updates and gratitude from them.
Child Learning and Care Center (CLCC)
“I think it’s wonderful CLCC will open again for essential families/those in most need” ~CLCC parent
After a two-week closure, CLCC has reopened to serve families of essential workers. They are operating with shorter hours, additional cleaning procedures, and stricter drop-off/pick-up procedures including temperature checks for the kids. They are encouraging those who can to remain home, but the CLCC staff and Programs Board understands that not everyone is in a position where keeping their kids at home is an option.
Ashleigh Johnson, CLCC Director and UCUCC member, writes “It is our mission to offer care to families who need it most. Right now those families are those who work in the essential industries, such as health care, food, government, etc. in addition to families receiving financial aid.”
UCUCC has been a long time partner with Teen Feed, who are offering food in a “to-go” model, with teens coming into the building one or two at a time to pick up dinners that have been bagged by a dedicated team of volunteers.
Recently we’ve made room for Teen Feed to offer meals six nights a week at UCUCC, allowing University Lutheran (a previous Teen Feed site for three meals a week) to expand their day center for homeless women to a 24-hour facility. Teen Feed Director of Programs, Phillip Peters, writes “Thank you again for helping us
relocate our dinners. We are off to a great start, and it has been such a relief to move into the space six days a week. You have been phenomenal partners during this difficult time.”
The University District Youth Center (UDYC)
UDYC is a program of YouthCare, and they have expanded their daily drop-in center for homeless teens from Gold House to include the UCUCC basement (rooms 104-106). They recently wrote us a thank you note, saying, “YouthCare is so grateful to have neighbors like the University Congregational United Church of Christ.
Coming together as a community to care for our most vulnerable communities is essential—now more than ever. UCUCC has been instrumental in helping us care for homeless youth who call the U-District home. Thank you! Teens love the space.”
Using the rooms in our basement allows the youth to spread out, keeping them safer and more able to ‘socially distance.’ They are using one of the rooms as a place for art projects, and a place for writing and using some of the UDYC computers. With our space as the main drop-in area, the smaller rooms at Gold House can be used for mental health offerings, and (if needed) a quarantine area if someone exhibits symptoms.
“These are some of the most difficult times in our history,” writes Nicole Phaysith of YouthCare, “But our collective resolve to not give up on youth, and the unwavering support of our community will get us through. We truly appreciate you, UCUCC, for helping us care for youth experiencing homelessness during these difficult times.”