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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

CITY OF GULF BREEZE: Interfaith Disaster Resources mobilizes to meet COVID-19 needs

Local Government

By Press release submission | Mar 22, 2020

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City of Gulf Breeze issued the following announcement on March 19.

The IDR will try to help feed children who depend on schools to provide breakfast and lunch.

Wednesday morning, March 18, saw the reactivation of the Gulf Breeze area’s Interfaith Disaster Resources group, via a teleconference call.

The group’s most immediate work will be focused on getting food to families whose children are on the free/reduced lunch program at Gulf Breeze, Oriole Beach and Woodlawn Beach schools, as well as other families who are in need during the pandemic school break.

IDR hopes to begin this effort as early as possible next week. In addition, the group will be providing delivery services for the vulnerable population who should not travel to stores and restaurants and so need delivery assistance for necessities like food and medications.

IDR is a state-recognized disaster response team. It was created in 2004 when residents realized there was a need for coordinated services to the community in times of trouble. 

Previously that trouble has come in the form of extreme weather incidents.

In the spring of 2020, the need for assistance is disease related because of the dramatic effect of COVID-19 on communities across the nation and around the world.

Gulf Breeze City Manager Samantha Abell, who addressed representatives of IDR at the March 18 session, said it may well be necessary for the IDR group to meet weekly for some time to address needs over the course of what may well be a long event.

Because members of the IDR include local churches, faith-based organizations, schools and hospitals who bring a variety of experience and expertise in handling emergency situations to the table, mobilization of the group appeared to proceed with little hindrance and an eager willingness to help. There are also numerous area businesses and non-profits partnering with IDR.

Abell said the group’s approach will be one of taking the existing disaster response model that has served the community well over the past 16 years and expanding it to address pandemic needs as a prolonged event.

“As the days and weeks unfold, the hope is that there will be more support from IDR, with churches ‘folded’ in to be on the front line,” Abell said to Wednesday’s group as she noted what immediate needs have been identified and what groups are already pledging efforts to assist.

These include Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church, which has experience in and will step up to provide registration for the food program. That work will include keeping track of demographics, such as the number of people in a household needing food assistance. Part of that work will involve coming up with a short message to alert families to the service being offered. Gulf Breeze schools can then push the necessary registration information out to families through robocalls and email.

The church’s hotline to register for the program is (850) 903-1420.

Gulf Breeze Presbyterian Church has a weekend food program and the necessary bank account that is designated for that purpose. They have pledged to accept donations for the 

IDR food effort and to manage the necessary food and supply purchases.

St. Ann Catholic Church, a next-door faith neighbor with experience in a church food bank of its own, will deal with preparing and bagging food supplies for a week, or as needed.

Runners from St. Ann’s will then deliver the food to the three drop-off locations where those enrolled in the program can pick it up curbside. Those locations include St. Ann’s (100 Daniel Drive), Community Life Center United Methodist Church (4115 Soundside Drive) and Good Samaritan Clinic (4435 Gulf Breeze Parkway).

Some meals will also be delivered to homes, for those who cannot access the pick-up locations.

Volunteers from Presbyterian Church and St. Ann’s, Community Life Center UMC, St. Francis Episcopal Church, Gulf Breeze First Baptist Church, Lighthouse Baptist Church, 

Momentum Church, Gulf Breeze UMC and Interfaith’s Good Samaritan Clinic will also be helping deliver the food curbside at the three drop-off locations and getting it to homes, as necessary. Anyone willing to assist in any of the efforts is encouraged to contact one of the organizations involved.

“We are asking other organizations who can volunteer to do so,” said Abell. “This is not like a natural disaster where the situation dissipates. We’re trying to plan this as a multi-phased approach to address a prolonged need. If churches and groups can all develop lists of volunteers like these so that as the primary churches that are purchasing and bagging need assistance, they can call on you, that will be needed.”

She stressed that volunteers will be required, as well, to handle the shopping and delivery of food, medicines and other items for the elderly and those in vulnerable medical situations who are trying to avoid getting out and mixing with the general public.

“These will be people who can pay for what they need, but they need someone to deliver stuff,” she said.

Abell said help from the community is always a necessity, but IDR is not looking for the donation of food items or other supplies. Such donations have their place, but they come with their own set of challenges.

In such times as these, in particular, it is necessary to observe caution in accepting such items. The organization is currently dealing only with monetary donations, which are the thing most needed, along with volunteer efforts.

Hot meals will not be provided as part of this program, but individuals or other groups are encouraged to provide such services as they are able.

In addition to this initial effort, IDR will also be in contact with area assisted living facilities on an ongoing basis to ensure their needs are met.

Original source can be found here.

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