Serving the Community In a Time of Crisis

Click to read Keystone’s schedule updates.


They don’t make playbooks for this kind of crisis. So many people are in need–and yet to keep a virus from jeopardizing more lives we must observe physical distancing.

But human service is close-up work. How can Keystone Opportunity Center serve at a distance?

  • We sit in small consultation rooms, face to face with people at their weakest hour.
  • We gather large groups of volunteers and clients together into our tiny pantry to bag up groceries.
  • We walk from desk to desk and lean in to assist students with their coursework on the papers spread out in front of them.

How can we help people if we cannot share space with them?

While this crisis will not last forever, the staff at Keystone Opportunity Center knew they had to do things differently than they’ve ever done before.

What does that mean?

Our housing programs, our classes, and our food pantry continue to serve our clients. We are there for the community as we have always been.

We’ve just changed the procedures:

FOOD PANTRY

Keystone’s food pantry clients were served in March and continue to be served.

The pantry provides a once-per-month food distribution to approximately 250 families. During the times that Keystone’s clients made their March pickups at the pantry, we tested new methods each day in order to increase safety.

We started wiping everything down between clients.

We delivered bags right into client cars.

We put up tables in our parking lot where clients picked up their bags after yelling their name to a staff or volunteer.

Our volunteers and staff have been champions at trying new approaches and keeping the pantry disinfected!


But there is one thing they could not overcome: the size of Keystone’s food pantry itself. The space is very small, yet it takes a village of volunteers to serve the many clients who come to our pantry.

Unfortunately, the space is so tiny that it is impossible to observe social distancing. Volunteers have to brush past each other to do the work in our narrow spaces.

As the virus was infecting an ever growing number of people, it became obvious that it was simply not safe to have so many individuals working together in such tight quarters. We could not live with a setup where the virus could so easily take hold.

So, in the last few days of March, once we had completed March client pickups, we went back to the drawing board and developed a new plan.

On April 3 we launched home deliveries to clients.

Instead of making clients use what little funds they have left to drive to the pantry, to support the public health goal of everyone staying at home to reduce the spread of the disease, and to eliminate the need to have a large group of volunteers working together in the very small pantry where social distancing is simply not possible, Keystone has moved to delivering client bags to homes.

This new procedure requires just a handful of volunteers. They can quickly pack bags at work stations throughout the office to maintain social distancing and deliver those bags outside client doors at a time agreed upon with the client.

This contactless “knock and drop” method has been used by other food pantries during this emergency, as well.

The welfare of ALL our community members is important to us. We happily undertake these herculean changes because we want to serve our clients, and ensure that everyone in our community stays safe.

Current and new clients may contact our Food Pantry at 215-723-5430 x101 or email Contact@KeystoneOpp.org.

Keystone has already completed home deliveries to the majority of Keystone’s pantry clients.

Weekly Contactless Food Collection
Mondays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
The Main Street entrance of Keystone Opportunity Center
104 Main Street, Souderton

Click to read more about our Food Pantry schedule.

HOUSING PROGRAMS

Keystone’s numerous programs that help those experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness are operating at full function.

Clients can still reach their cases managers in any of our many programs: Rapid Rehousing, Permanent Supportive Housing, Single Residence Occupancy, and Low-Cost Rentals.

Those experiencing homelessness can continue to sign up for services by dialing 2-1-1 anywhere within Montgomery and Bucks counties.

Our Community Case Manager is still assisting community members via telephone. She can be reached at 215-723-5430 x130 or email Contact@KeystoneOpp.org.

Keystone successfully moved five families experiencing homelessness into housing during March..

Click to read more about our Housing schedule.

ADULT EDUCATION

Keystone’s PA Dept of Education/Title II adult education classes have been restructured so they can continue to help people reach self-sufficiency via distance learning.

In March, all four of Keystone’s High School Equivalency classes switched to online learning. The students in the classes are continuing to prepare for the GED or HiSET subject tests in anticipation of the re-opening of testing centers.

In early April, Keystone’s ESL classroom instructors, along with Keystone’s volunteer tutors, transitioned currently-enrolled students to online learning.

Keystone has transitioned current students to distance learning. Once these programs become established, new students whose classes were scheduled to begin in mid-March will be contacted..

Click to read more about our Education schedule.

HOW CAN I HELP?

The best way you can help at this time is with a financial contribution. That will help us get what we need to assist clients through this emergency.

For the moment, we are asking individuals to hold on to collections of food or other items until we announce a time and place where we will be collecting them. Please watch our website and social media for this announcement.

This is an unprecedented time for all.

Our clients are suffering like never before.

And as front line workers, we have a duty to keep everyone safe. We must incorporate public health guidance into every decision we make.

We have made changes, and will continue to make changes, so we can serve people–and protect people–at the same time.

We are, like the wonderful churches that surround us, still open–even while our building is not accessible. We are still providing services, and doing so in a way that is consistent with what is required to safeguard public health.

The staff at Keystone have re-made the operations of the entire organization in just a few weeks, motivated by their passion for serving those who are in the greatest need.

We are doing everything we can to serve in a time when nothing is certain and the road is shifting beneath our feet.

Please stand with us as we work through this challenging, uncertain time.

HOW CAN I LEARN MORE?

With so much about the state of emergency changing minute-by-minute, please watch bookmark our website and follow our social media for updates:

   

We hope you and your family stay safe in these challenging times.