NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Traditionally, Norfolk’s Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) would provide meals and shelter to homeless adults during the city’s winter months at different churches. However, the coronavirus pandemic has made the logistics trickier this year.
To keep services available, First Presbyterian Church in Norfolk stepped up to help.
The church offered to be the physical site for the entire season, but have asked other churches to switch out actually running the shelter on a weekly rotation.
10 On Your Side spoke with Martha Gorman from Tabernacle Church in Norfolk. This week, it’s their turn to run the overnight shelter out of First Presbyterian. She also happens to be a NEST board member.
There’s a lot that goes into setting up the weeklong shelter alone, but taking COVID-19 precautions adds another set of boxes to check off, Gorman explained.
Along with getting beds and blankets, the NEST shelter is geared up for the pandemic with sanitizer and disposable materials. Coronavirus guidelines are in place, including mandatory mask-wearing, plexiglass shields, extra cleaning, pre-assigned sleeping spots and movement restrictions.
Luckily, through a partnership with the City of Norfolk, they’ve had access to enough personal protective equipment.
More than anything, the program is in need of boots on the ground: volunteers. Gorman said you don’t need to be with a church to participate. Volunteering duties include shift work supervisors, food preparation and check-in table workers.
Tabernacle Church is hosting NEST at First Presbyterian from Jan. 13 to Jan. 20. There are still a few weeks left for shelter, but the program needs other congregations and volunteers to help out.
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NEST does not provide services to Norfolk’s homeless families, but services are available here for those who need them.
Families needing assistance can also call the Regional Housing Crisis Hotline at 757-587-4202.
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