Resource sites for homeless change during COVID-19 pandemic

Alicia Barrera, Steven Chavez

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio has partnered with multiple agencies to continue providing food, showers and other resources to the homeless community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city’s department of human services has a total of four designated resource hubs that are staffed by city employees during the week and by volunteers on weekends.

Organizations helping run those hubs include SAMMinistries at the Walmart parking lot at 3302 SE Military Drive, Christian Assistance Ministries at 110 McCullough Avenue, Harvest Church at 9323 Perrin Beitel Road and Corazon Ministries at 319 W. Travis Street.

A full list of the resources for the homeless during COVID-19 can be found here.

Corazon Ministries’ resource hub is located in the parking lot of Jesse James Leija Gymnasium or San Fernando Gym. According to Travis Park Church associate pastor, Gavin Rogers, it’s considered to be the largest city resource hub that serves meals seven days a week.

For years, the ministry has worked out of Travis Park Church, but due to city regulations and safety recommendations, they, along with other ministries, can no longer offer the same services as they did pre-COVID-19.

“We’ve lost the ability to do a full doctor’s visit, but we also don’t do our clothes closet very often anymore because all that’s inside,” Rogers said. “We don’t do showers in this location (anymore). Those, (have been moved to the) Christian Assistant Ministries (hub), where they’re providing a shower unit.”

The only service now offered at Travis Park Church for the homeless is prescription medication assistance from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. The client must already have a prescription. Inside the church, the seating area is empty, and only volunteers are allowed in the kitchen to prepare meals.

John Caldwell is the food manager at Travis Park Church. Although the distribution location has changed, Caldwell said it feels good to not have to close his kitchen.

“We’ve not missed one meal through a roof collapse, through migrant resources (or even through COVID-19),” Caldwell said. “We’ve been pulled in different directions. Pivot is part of the business.”

Funds however, continue to be a big need.

“(Donations to) the San Antonio Food Bank is a really good way to provide us food, because that’s where we do most of our shopping,” Caldwell said.

Those who usually lined up outside of Travis Park Church now have to walk about five blocks to the nearest resource hub to receive a mask, a hygiene kit and a warm meal.

Cornelius Wheeler is part of the homeless community and one of Corazon Ministries’ regulars. Wheeler arrived early Sunday morning with his face covered, eager to receive what he calls “a blessing.”

“I wasn’t even expecting a warm meal,” Wheeler said. “I thought it was going to be a sandwich or something. This is pretty awesome that I get a hot meal, though.”

Those lined up on Saturday morning off of Travis Street received a plate with breakfast items, including scrambled eggs, pigs in a blanket and donuts.

“I love you guys,” Wheeler said to volunteers. “I love it here. Stay safe.”

Corazon Ministries said it feeds about 125 people everyday and on even more on Sundays. To help make sure everyone is served and kept safe, the ministry needs volunteers to help staff the outdoor distribution tables and help with other tasks. According to the city’s website, every volunteer at homeless care hubs will be provided with gloves and masks.

To learn more about the volunteer shifts available, click here.

For more information of Corazon Ministries, visit its website here.

Copyright 2020 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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About the Author: Alicia Barrera, Steven Chavez

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