Filling the Gap
August 3, 2020
With an incredible passion for serving homeless people, the congregation of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston began a new ministry in 2007. Soon, they expanded to provide legal aid, meals, showers, and even housing for formerly incarcerated women. When those services came together, the ministry became its own nonprofit with an enlarged mission and a new name – The Beacon.
Their goal to reduce and end homelessness in Houston gave them the opportunity to serve over 12,000 people in 2019. It was a great year of service and a strong year for them financially. They were in an excellent position to start 2020, but no one expected 2020 to bring the COVID-19 pandemic, which has upended American lives in countless ways.
During the first quarter, America’s bustling way of life began to shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. Essential organizations could remain open, but they needed to practice social distancing and put in place additional sanitation measures to keep people safe. Many nonprofits in Houston that were focused on ending homelessness were having to close their doors. They simply could not do their work safely during a pandemic.
When providers started shuttering in March and April, the Coalition for the Homeless asked The Beacon to step up and fill the gap. Without hesitation, they agreed. “We took a leap of faith to do this work before any extra funding came,” Chief Executive Officer Becky Landes said. “We believed we would find a way to make it work.”
They continued many of their services, but on a smaller scale. For instance, they continued providing laundry services and showers to the homeless, but they only allowed 20 people-a-day to participate to keep their clients and volunteers safe. However, they also expanded some of their services. In fact, they expanded so much they had to hire additional staff! In the past they had served 1,500 meals a week, but in March that doubled. Their workers were essential, making sack lunches for the hungry and cooking hot meals as well. They served 7 days-a-week.
Many of their services only required small modifications. They had to do that work very quickly, but it was not impossible. On the other hand, their day center was where they saw the greatest shift. The need for their food services had doubled and increased costs came with those needs. They had to put up social distance marks, add plexiglass barriers, provide masks, and ensure food pick-up was done safely, not to mention secure extra food.
“Our grant from TMF was such a blessing, because it helped us fill the gap. It was critical that TMF gave funds early in the pandemic. For some organizations having that money early on, guaranteed they maintained their services. We knew we could move forward because we had such a good year in 2019, but the grant provided additional peace of mind,” Becky noted.
As The Beacon continues to fill the gap, working to end homelessness in Houston, even as other nonprofits are having to pause their efforts, TMF is grateful for the work they are doing with the most vulnerable among us and we are grateful our grant could help them serve additional people during this crisis.