MORRIS COuNTY — Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, Community Hope has worked tirelessly to stay faithful to its mission and keep those they serve healthy and safe. The challenge they faced was steep, how to keep homeless veterans and adults suffering from mental illness, who live together in communal living spaces, healthy and free from the virus. They did what any family would do; they put an action plan in place, explained the situation to their residents and their employees, and made sure to follow the plan. However, one challenge was left; what happens if someone in the residential homes contracts the virus…how could they prevent the virus from spreading to the rest of the residents in the home when baths, kitchens, and, sometimes, bedrooms are shared?
The answer came when the County of Morris called and offered a vacant home to the organization. “Just as we were trying to figure out how to keep our consumers safe in case someone contracted the virus, Morris County presented us with an option that evolved into an idea for an isolation home. We decided to act swiftly and turn this vacant house made available to us by the County into a home where we could move someone who became ill and provide them with a comfortable and safe place to recuperate,” said Carmine Deo, Community Hope Executive Director. “Our housing team met and toured the home and we quickly realized that this was the answer.”
The home is spacious with five bedrooms and three full baths and recently renovated. However, one challenge remained. Community Hope needed to have the home furnished and ready for residents in a very short time. Deo made a phone call to Morris Habitat for Humanity Chief Executive Officer, Blair Schleicher Wilson. Once Ms. Wilson heard the plan, she offered to help by donating whatever was necessary from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. “On behalf of our ReStore team, I am so happy we could help our partner and colleague, Community Hope with household furnishings for their clients. Having a safe, decent, and affordable place to live is important now more than ever and by working together we will fill the world with hope and homes.,” said Wilson.
The result is a quaint home ready and waiting for anyone who should need it. “The best part of the story is that we have not had to utilize the home at this point for a sick resident. We have been able to manage the virus and keep our residents healthy. The home is there if we need it, but, at this point, we are looking for other opportunities to utilize the space,” commented Deo.
Community Hope is deeply grateful to the County of Morris and Habitat for Humanity for their swift action to help those who Community Hope serves daily with offering solutions to help them continue their mission of serving individuals, including veterans and their families, overcome mental illness, addiction, homelessness, and poverty by providing housing and support services.
“I am so proud of our employees, as well as our veterans and consumers for keeping themselves and others healthy and safe throughout this crisis. We are truly working together,” Deo added.
Community Hope, a non-profit organization since 1985, employs a team of over 150 and helps hundreds of people annually, including veterans and their families, overcome mental illness, substance use, and homelessness. The organization provides clinical case management and support, transitional housing, affordable housing, and homeless prevention services.