Georgetown Ministry Center Adjusts to Covid Challenges

Sitting at the heart of Georgetown lies the Georgetown Ministry Center, the neighborhood’s primary provider of daily services for individuals living with homelessness. Although not a full-service shelter, the center offers a variety of critical resources, including a place to shower and wash your clothes, a daily meal, and access to computers, among other services. But this model faced a huge challenge under Covid: how to serve this population while still following the city’s health guidelines?

GMC was founded by a consortium of Georgetown congregations and Georgetown University in 1984. And it operates out of a building adjacent to Grace Episcopal, just off Wisconsin Ave. In normal times, this tight collection of a handful of rooms served as a clubhouse for the approximately 40 individuals who used the center’s services on a routine basis. But its layout is inconsistent with social distancing requirements. Nonetheless, physical changes to the space implemented shortly after the shutdown have allowed the center to continue on, albeit with significantly limited capacity.

The center installed plexiglass partitions between the shower/laundry areas and the food distribution area, which allows for both to be used at the same time. Nonetheless, patrons who were before able to use the showers and laundry multiple times a week now must make a reservation and can only use them once a week. In between each use, the areas are cleaned. (Unfortunately the bathroom is no longer available for use, a significant loss for the patrons.)

A daily meal prepared by Veritas Church on Water St. is still provided. However the patrons cannot eat it at the center, nor can they use the computers.

As mentioned above, GMC is not a shelter, but in the winter months it does provide sleeping arrangements for ten individuals each night. The location of the nightly shelter rotates around the member congregations. But that is simply not possible this year.

GMC has taken these steps to continue to serve the entire community of Georgetown. While touring the center GM asked Ron Castaldi, the President of GMC, what he would like the residents of Georgetown to know about the center. And he said emphatically that “we’re here”. He explained that if you have any issues stemming from the homelessness crisis to reach out to them. There is a chance that if there is some individual you have a concern about, GMC might be familiar with them, and could be able to help.

And if you would like to help them, they could certainly use it! Personally GM always includes GMC in his annual CFC giving, and you ought to consider doing the same if you don’t already. Additionally, the annual Taste of Georgetown, which benefits GMC, is not being held this year. But a replacement model, the Taste and Shop of Georgetown, is taking place instead. Spread out over the month of October, shops and restaurants across the neighborhood will offer daily specials and treats, with proceeds benefiting GMC. Participating will help both GMC and the business community, both of which could use your help!

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