Welcome to the Listening House

Covid 19 update March 20, 2020

At Listening House, we, like everyone else, are grappling with the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact to the lives of our guests, volunteers, staff, and community. We have been and continue to monitor the situation, following news and advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the MN Department of Health, and our community partners. 

Listening House closed to the public and our guests beginning at 11:30 AM on Friday March 20, 2020.  Our plan is to re-open on Monday, April 6 at 9 AM.  This was communicated to guests here today. The health and safety of all guide our decision-making.  There are no known illnesses among guests, volunteers or staff.   During the weeks we are closed to the public and guests, we will be monitoring all new information related to the pandemic so that upon re-opening, we will have enhanced protective measures in place to provide critical services in a manner that is consistent with Federal, State, and Local recommendations.  As you know, there are many unknowns and the rules of the game seem to change on a daily basis. 

Staff is to be commended for the additional actions they have taken to date to ensure the cleanliness of our space and mitigate the spread of germs up to now. These enhanced measures include:

  • Educating staff, guests, and the community about COVID-19 and its symptoms (fever, dry cough, trouble breathing, and more) and requesting any guest who is experiencing symptoms to check in with staff to take their temperature and screen for illness.
  • Asking staff who are experiencing symptoms of illness to seek medical advice and remain home until symptoms have completely resolved.
  • Ensuring that adequate cleaning materials and hygiene products are available including soap, water, sanitary products, cleaning supplies. In addition to our four bathrooms with sinks, a portable handwashing station was added to the front entrance as a very visible reminder.
  • Conducting additional cleaning and frequently disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.
  • Encouraging proper and frequent handwashing and other preventative measures including social distancing.
  • Suspending acceptance of donations of used clothing.
  • Suspending the Thursday foot care and clothing room.
  • Discontinuing communal food sharing.
  • Requesting volunteers stay home to reduce the risk to our guests as well as protect their safety.
  • Encouraging guests who have homes to stay home for the sake of their own health.

Even with these measures, for the public health of our guests, staff, and broader community, we find it necessary to temporarily close.  In this time of unknowns, it has been a very difficult decision. The people who seek refuge at Listening House have long dealt with unknowns.  They often do not know where they will sleep, where they will eat, when they will get resources, and more. 

Given the pandemic, many of us who have lived in relative control of our circumstances now experience high anxiety.  That is to be expected.  If you are personally struggling, practical tips are offered by the National Alliance of Mental Illness on their website at www.nami.org.   Listening House staff and guests are also feeling more stretched than normal by the unknowns.  Anxiety runs high.  Some regular guests have already self-isolated.  People are not as physically close to one another.  The hugs and fist bumps that previously flowed freely are now bumped elbows and heel clicks if they occur at all.   

Within all of this, my inspiration comes from the guests.  When asked how they are, the responses I hear most often carry a common sentiment:  “I’m on this side of the dirt, aren’t I?  It is a good day.”   “I’m blessed by the best.”  “I am groovy and blessed.”  “I’m blessed and highly favored.”   Listening to them, for myself, I pray for an increase in faith.  I also pray for the continued health and well-being of our staff, guests, volunteers, donors and supporters.  Thank you for being part of our Listening House community.  Please watch our website www.listeninghouse.org or Facebook for regular updates during these times of unknowns.

Cheryl Peterson, Executive Director

Occupying Hearts – Offering Resources

Listening House is a sanctuary from the streets where practical assistance, counsel and a friendly ear are offered to people who are homeless, disadvantaged or lonely.  Staff and volunteers aspire to create a sense of community and connection by promoting respect for all.  Respect nurtures hope, which in turn strengthens personal resolve toward positive change.

Our doors open to up to 140 adults each day. Though our space is humble, friendships are rich and we actively engage with surrounding businesses to be a good neighbor. Support comes from a variety of sources and includes financial contributions, in-kind donations, professional services, and over 10,000 hours of volunteer assistance, annually.

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