Mark Evans, LISCW
Executive Director, Lynn Shelter Association
At the onset of the coronavirus, in order to keep our clients safe, the Lynn Shelter Association made the decision to relocate our clients from our current shelter on Willow Street to the Lynn YMCA to accommodate for social distancing. We were able to provide everyone with surgical grade masks, but when our clients spent time outdoors the act of hand-washing was difficult due to the lack of access to public restrooms around Lynn.
Our homeless population is more vulnerable to the pandemic as many experience co-morbidities and yet the simple act of staying healthy by washing their hands was not so simple anymore. Given the lack of available sinks to wash their hands, it was feared our clients were likely not only spreading the virus amongst their population but also to their caregivers at the shelter, local soup kitchen, health clinic and the YMCA.
Our fears were echoed by the other social service institutions of the city who collectively came together to form as a Vulnerable Population Task Force to tackle issues faced by our collective clients. The task force agreed that hand washing stations were desperately needed.
As Beyond Walls had shown a remarkable ability to troubleshoot and serve past community needs through a creative placemaking lens, they were invited to participate in the task force. In quick order, they recognized our need and inquired as to the ability to rent hand-washing stations from major rental companies. Discovering hand-washing stations were now 12 weeks out from procurement, Beyond Walls designed and fabricated hand washing stations at their office in Lynn and approached the Lynn Shelter about installing a WaSH station at the YMCA. We knew our clients would now have an opportunity to protect themselves and others by having access to soap and clean water.
We are immensely grateful for Beyond Walls and their commitment to the health and safety of all members of the Lynn community. They filled a critical need during this arduous time and we are so appreciative of their support.