After 15 months in pandemic mode, our First Church Homeless Ministries are finally preparing to return to “normal” operations—with a few COVID adjustments.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, First Church responded rapidly, adjusting existing programs and adding new ones to meet the special needs of the homeless community. Now, with emergency restrictions lifted in Massachusetts, we are moving toward a new phase.
- The First Church Shelter, which expanded to continuous 24-hour operation in March 2020, will return to its pre-COVID hours September 1, opening to guests Monday–Friday 6:00 pm–7:00 am, and Saturdays and Sundays 6:00 pm–8:00 am.
- The Friday Café, which has been serving meals-to-go from the Tower Room entrance on Mason St., will return to Margaret Jewett Hall starting September 10. A Relaunch Team has been meeting to draw up a detailed reopening plan, which will include slightly shortened hours and no nap room during the initial transition period. Vaccination and masking will be required for all volunteers, and hygiene protocols will be stepped up as well. The Café has also taken this opportunity to negotiate an earlier start time of 12:00 p.m. Thanks to Newtowne School for accommodating this schedule change!
- The weeknight restaurant meal program launched last spring in partnership with the City of Cambridge will continue until the end of August, serving packaged restaurant meals from the Tower Room to about 100 guests a night, 3 nights a week.
- Meanwhile, the mobile heated showers on Church St., which have been overseen and staffed by the First Church Shelter, will close at the end of June, but showers will continue to be available through July and August at the Harvard Square Shelter on Winthrop St. Many thanks to University Lutheran Church for generously offering their facilities to keep this critical service going.
First Church Homeless Ministries is very grateful for the support of the Cambridge community as we have worked to meet essential needs during the pandemic crisis. Neighbors have made thousands of bag lunches and hundreds of hot meals, donated clothing, toiletries, and sleeping bags, given to our ministry funds, and even volunteered onsite when possible.
Thank you, Cambridge friends! We look forward to keeping in touch!