As the coronavirus pandemic has hit Georgia, many nonprofits and community organizations have had to reevaluate how to best support vulnerable populations through the outbreak.
One such organization is Love Beyond Walls, which focuses on supporting the homeless population in metro Atlanta throughout the year. But with the growing threat of coronavirus, Terrence Lester, founder and executive director of the nonprofit, had to quickly pull together a plan to address new and critical needs in the communities they serve.
"One of the biggest challenges is a lack of access to water and soap," Lester shared. "As we're complaining about having to stay inside, there's a little over half a million people who would probably give anything to have a safe, warm place to lay their heads, and also wash their hands to protect themselves."
To address the problem, Love Beyond Walls decided to launch a campaign called "Love Sinks In." The organization has placed about 15 portable handwashing sinks around Atlanta using repurposed RV parts. Even after just a few weeks, there are already long lines of people waiting to wash their hands.
Lester noted that while social distancing has suddenly become a part of daily life for millions of people across the country, the homeless population has been dealing with a version of social distancing since well before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
"When people walk by, that's social distancing," he explained. "When people cross the street when they see people experiencing homelessness, that's social distancing. And so what's happened is, this social distancing has compounded on the social isolation [homeless individuals] experience."
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