The Non-Profit Subcommittee of the Township of Montclair’s COVID-19 Task Force convened emergency meetings last week (January 27 and 28) to address yet another crisis triggered by the pandemic: daytime respite from the cold for community members who are homeless.
With extreme temperatures and a significant snowstorm in the forecast, the Subcommittee recognized the need to act quickly. In past winters, public spaces such as the library and coffee shops would have been open to provide a place for homeless individuals to warm up during the day. Going to these locations is not an option this year because of COVID.
Due to the determination of all involved, a plan came together quickly. Through March 31, the Salvation Army and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair (UUCM) will open their doors for daytime respite from the cold for parts of each day, seven days a week.
Strict COVID protocols have been implemented at both locations. Lunch and dinner are being providing through the collaborative efforts of Toni’s Kitchen, the Salvation Army and MESH. The Subcommittee is also working to arrange for onsite COVID vaccinations for the homeless individuals who are visiting the daytime respite sites. Small grants from Partners for Health Foundation, The Schumann Fund for New Jersey, and The Montclair Foundation will cover the start-up costs of the program.
“I commend the great work of the Mayor’s Covid-19 Task Force which shepherded the overwhelming good will and energy of these community partners to provide much-needed relief for our homeless population,” said Sean M. Spiller, Mayor, Township of Montclair.
Former Montclair Mayor Ed Remsen is the Chair of Non-Profit Subcommittee of the Township’s COVID-19 Task Force. He led the discussions and was joined by Montclair Councilor David Cummings; Anne Mernin of Toni’s Kitchen; Michele Kroeze of the Salvation Army; Peter Arian of the UUCM; Gwen Ames of Montclair Emergency Services for Hope (MESH); Kathy Smith of Partners for Health Foundation; Al Pelham of Montclair Neighborhood Development Corp; and Rev. Ann Ralosky of First Congregational Church.
Rev. Dr. Campbell B. Singleton, III and Trustee Floyd J. Slaten, Jr. of the Union Baptist Church of Montclair also participated. Union Baptist welcomes overnight guests when nighttime temperatures go below 32-degrees.
Local residents who want to support the safety net organizations that have been working tirelessly to address critical needs throughout the pandemic are encouraged to donate directly to these organizations.