Local help agencies brace

Hendersonville Samaritan Association food bank coordinator LeEllen Claud expects to receive more requests for assistance as the country’s coronavirus pandemic continues.

Local help agencies say they’re already serving residents hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus and expect more help will be needed as the pandemic continues. 

The closing of restaurants and bars in downtown Nashville has already impacted some here, noted Hendersonville Samaritan Association Executive Director Steve Brown.

“We had a musician on Lower Broadway come in and tell us he’s out of work,” said Brown whose non-profit agency helps those in need. “Another client is an usher at Bridgestone Arena.” 

Metro Nashville was declared a public health emergency on Sunday amid rising cases of the coronavirus, or COVID-19. Two people have tested positive for the virus in Sumner County, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

The economic impact is already evident with several businesses closing for a period of time, or modifying their hours. 

Brown said his agency is prepared to help those in need. 

“We’re ready to do more than we normally do,” he said. “If you know a neighbor who is struggling food-wise, tell them to call us.” The center can be reached at 615-824-7105.

Brown said he’s received calls from those concerned about children not being fed while school is out for an extended amount of time. Sumner County Schools is currently on spring break. Gov. Bill Lee has urged all schools to remain closed at least until March 31. 

Brown noted that although his agency gives weekend food packs to students in need, they are distributed during school hours so his agency has no way of knowing who the students are. 

“We’re just encouraging anyone who needs food to contact us,” he said. “And for those who want to help, we’re suggesting they donate store gift cards so that our clients can buy extra items besides what we offer in our food bank.”

For those in need of a hot meal, the Samaritan Center will host its Share our Food Kitchen on Monday, March 23 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Community Church of Hendersonville. 

The meals will be served to go, Brown added.

The soup kitchen serves around 60 to 70 meals twice a month to those who need it, mostly families and the elderly, according to Brown. The Samaritan Center may consider increasing the meals to once a week if the need is there, he said.

Grace Place, a homeless shelter for women and children in Hendersonville that already has a waiting list, is bracing for more requests as well. 

“A lot of people are going to be displaced because of this,” said Grace Place Executive Director Desneige VanCleve. “Our services are going to be needed now more than ever.”

In an effort to limit exposure to its clients and their children, the non-profit organization isn’t currently accepting donations at its office, Van Cleve added. 

Those who would like to contribute to the women and children that Grace Place serves are encouraged to send Walmart or Kroger gift cards to help meet their needs. Cards may be sent to Grace Place, P.O. Box 1771, Hendersonville, Tenn., 37077. 

The Hendersonville Home Bound Meals Program is in need of help as well. 

The organization that provides meals to the elderly and disabled is currently working with the Mid-Cumberland Resources Agency to provide emergency shelf meals in the event that hot meals can’t be delivered, according to the organization’s Facebook page. 

The non-profit organization is also concerned that some of its clients may run out of necessary items and not be able to get to the store. 

Needed items are toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap and hand sanitizer. Donations can be taken to the Home Bound Meals Office located in Community Church of Hendersonville, 381 West Main Street. Supplies may be dropped off Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Anyone who wishes to donate is encouraged to call the office at 615-824-0811.

For updates on the needs of many of the United Way of Sumner County’s partner agencies, go to the organization’s website at https://www.unitedwaysumner.org/uwsc-coronavirus-updates.

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