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YWCA Cass Clay Response to COVID-19

At YWCA Cass Clay, the health and safety of those we serve, our volunteers, and employees is always our top priority.

Update: January 21, 2021

YWCA Emergency Shelter Renovates for Pandemic and Beyond. In December, YWCA completed a two-month renovation of the Emergency Shelter second floor to help expand our community’s capacity to provide safe quarantine space for individuals experiencing homelessness.

The renovation included modifications to three existing sleeping rooms, two multipurpose rooms, and four storage rooms to now offer seven sleeping rooms with restrooms.

With these new rooms, YWCA now has space to safely isolate or quarantine 19 people at the Emergency Shelter. The renovation also provides opportunity for better serving families into the future and raises our shelter capacity to 72 women and children at any given time.

This project was made possible through a $291,000 CARES Act grant from the State of North Dakota and the City of Fargo. Special thanks to our partners, the City of Fargo, Shultz & Associates Architects, and Border Construction, for collaboration.

Single women and families began living in the newly renovated rooms at Christmas time.

Update: September 25, 2020

911 Calls for Domestic Violence Up in Pandemic; YWCA Remains Ready to Serve. Locally, there is an uptrend in 911 calls for domestic violence during this time of pandemic. YWCA Cass Clay has been here every day, around the clock, with uninterrupted shelter, care, and services to help women fleeing domestic violence during the pandemic. Unwavering, we have provided immediate safety, food, clothing, job and education resources, childcare, and more.

Our phone never once went unanswered, nor was any woman in imminent danger turned away.

Given the number we serve with shelter, COVID-19 was inevitably detected in some women and children who came to us. Fortunately, YWCA had made proactive plans in concert with the state and public health officials for quarantine carefully managed by YWCA at a local hotel, with our staff onsite and vigilant.

We are doing our part to help control the community spread of coronavirus. During the time of evacuation, we played an expanded role, emergency shelter stayed available, even during a brief period when we moved occupants entirely offsite for safety and quarantine. YWCA continuously serves as a source of safety, security, and hope, as we have for 40+ years.

We have worked hard to communicate our continued presence during the pandemic. No woman living in abuse or homelessness should believe she is without options. No woman should be without hope. And, certainly, no woman should think she must wait for the pandemic to clear before leaving an abuser.

In recent months, we’ve received a volume of calls consistent with past years, yet an increase in the number who call ahead and then never arrive for help. We fear it’s because abusers are able to exert more control, or women have concerns of themselves or their children contracting coronavirus outside of their present home.

Our entire team has worked long hours, enacted exceptional health and safety precautions, and adapted for the well-being of those we serve. Our board, leadership, and team have gone to great lengths. Our hearts are wrung by knowing women are isolated at home with abusers, in situations exacerbated by stress. Please share that YWCA is here, open and ready

Update: June 4, 2020

Today, YWCA Cass Clay (YWCA) began weekly mass testing of residents and staff at the Emergency Shelter. This preventative measure was advised by state and local public health officials under the direction of North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

The Red River Valley COVID-19 Taskforce uses multiple factors to identify potential testing groups include occupation, congregate living settings, and those with an increased risk of exposure to positive COVID-19. Residents of YWCA Emergency Shelter and staff will be tested for COVID-19 each week for the foreseeable future.

YWCA continues to stand ready to serve those facing violence and homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic and always.

Update: March 26, 2020

A safe place is ready at YWCA Cass Clay; Our doors remain open to women who must escape. As homes close off from one another and many are confined at home due to social distancing or work loss, the tension and violence of abusive relationships can be magnified. Some women will be cut off from emotional support by coworkers and family. Others lose the ability to save for future safety. At YWCA we remain committed to being there when women need us the most, and we REMAIN OPEN.

The Shelter has been above capacity for all of 2020, unusual for this early in the year. We regularly have 75 women and children staying with us. We foresee this will continue and may possibly rise to our crisis overflow level of 80 people.

YWCA was as ready as an organization could be for this emergency situation. We’ve been through natural disasters, building evacuations, prior flu seasons, safety lock-downs, and more. Our emergency preparedness plans have helped us adapt and continue services.

Our team continues to offer programs and services at the Emergency Shelter and in our Supportive Housing Program. Anxiety is high in our community, yet I proudly witness team members faithfully carry on with calmness and professionalism, even as they manage new challenges at home. Extra compassion for one another is strong among caregivers of our YWCA team.

What more are we doing
Additional safety protocols and other changes have been put in place:

  • We have doubled and tripled down on cleaning and sanitizing performed both by staff and women staying with us. Individual rooms are helpful for containing risk.
  • Case management for women in the shelter involves social distancing and is now by virtual meetings for those who live in Supportive Housing.
  • Our Study Buddies Program has gone from after-school programming to offering fun learning opportunities multiple times a day.
  • Buffet-style meals have been replaced with individually packaged meals at staggered times.
  • The Food Pantry at our Shelter remains open. We know that thousands in our community will need nutritional support now more than ever. Hand washing and safe distancing procedures are fully in place for pick up of food boxes.
  • A Child’s World, YWCA’s public childcare center, is open to children from families of essential and emergency personnel. Using guidance from local, state, and federal resources, ACW has added safety protocols and is serving as a community resource to parents working in essential fields during the COVID-19 pandemic – those working to keep our community healthy and safe.

If someone you know needs help
We are here.
Call, go online, reach out to us for help with homeless prevention, shelter, food, or childcare for essential personnel. Social isolation and a slowing economy will not barricade us from serving our community. Contact us at 701-232-3449 or www.ywcacassclay.org.

How you can help
Your past support has given YWCA a strong foundation, yet the impact of the pandemic is already being felt financially at YWCA. With fewer volunteers onsite, less in-kind donations dropped off, and lower numbers of children at A Child’s World, we have had to make the difficult decision to decrease staffing levels. We have also had fewer monetary donations come in to support our work.

While we don’t know yet what the greatest economic challenge of modern times will bring, we do know with certainty that domestic violence and homelessness will be pronounced due to unemployment and exacerbated stress. Our occupancy is already high and we expect the need for our services to grow.

You provide a lifeline with each $44 given to provide shelter, food, and clothing for a woman or child for one night of shelter, or other amount for safety net resources to those in urgent need.

Other needs include toilet paper, bread, peanut butter, cereal, and cleaning supplies. These items, as well as gently used donations of clothing and household goods, may be dropped off in the truck parked outside YWCA Emergency Shelter. Used items may also be placed in YWCA donation bins across the community.

We remain at the service of our community knowing you are at our side.

Update: March 20, 2020

Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, A Child’s World will reopen to children from families of essential and emergency personnel. Based on guidance from local, state and federal resources, ACW will implement additional safety protocols and serve as a community resource to parents working in essential fields during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our sincere gratitude to all essential and emergency personnel. We are proud to be able to serve your families as you work to keep our community healthy and safe.

Update: March 15, 2020

YWCA is monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and we are following CDC, HUD, Fargo Cass Public Health and other local and regional officials guidance on the situation.

With the State of North Dakota closing schools for the coming week, and the CDC discouraging gatherings of more than 50 people, YWCA has made the difficult decision to close A Child’s World March 16-20, 2020.

This decision is based on CDC recommendations and YWCA’s policy of following Fargo Public Schools for closures. This safety precaution is being taken for the health and well-being of the children and families we serve, the staff and our community.

More information will be forthcoming regarding tuition and billing. We know this is a trying time for all YWCA stakeholders and we appreciate your patience and support as we navigate this difficult situation.

Update: March 13, 2020

There is growing concern about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and like you, we are monitoring the situation closely. We are following the CDC, HUD and the World Health Organization for updates and guidance, and we are in touch with Fargo Cass Public Health and other local and regional officials regarding the matter. 

The situation is changing rapidly and we will continue to monitor and make decisions on a daily basis.

On any given day, YWCA serves more than 300 women and children and employs 80 people. Every decision we make impacts hundreds of people.  As of today, all YWCA programs remain open and available, however, there will be changes in our procedures. We are taking additional safety measures including in our cleaning protocols, and as a cautionary step we are limiting visitors to our facilities. The following precautions are currently being enacted:

  • Illness Prevention: YWCA continues to follow best practices in cleanliness. It is of utmost importance and our team works hard daily to ensure our organization is kept to the highest standard of cleanliness. In addition to our normal cleaning routines, we have taken measures to ramp up our efforts to be even more frequent, specifically in high traffic areas.
  • Volunteers: Individuals that have volunteered with us previously or have an upcoming shift may still volunteer onsite if they so choose. However, if you are not feeling well or feel you may have been exposed to illness, we ask that you please stay home for your own well-being and that of your fellow community members. New volunteers, young people and large groups are not able to volunteer at YWCA at this time.
  • Donations: Donations of new and gently used items will still be accepted in YWCA donation bins and at the Shelter. However, at the Shelter, individuals will be directed to drop their donations inside the back of a U-Haul truck instead of coming inside the building.
  • Meetings: Upcoming committee meetings will be held via conference call or Zoom Meeting. Information will be provided ahead of each meeting through normal channels.
  • YWCA Staff: Employees are encouraged to stay home if they do not feel well. In addition, at this time, employees who may be at higher risk as identified by the CDC and those with a self-identified compromised immunity may work from home if applicable to their position or utilize their Extended Illness Bank. Other staff are continuing to work at their regular YWCA location at this time.

We are continuing to monitor the situation and make decisions for the safety of all YWCA stakeholders as the situation evolves.  If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.