Salvation Army of the Shoals remains vigilant in serving homeless population during COVID-19 spike


FLORENCE, Ala. — In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Salvation Army of the Shoals was faced with the question of how to service the area’s homeless population in a rapidly changing world.

In March, the shelter had reached capacity and not everyone was able to stay inside.

Captain Benjamin Deuel said they found answers through communication with city leaders.

“We worked with the city and were able to get to where we could allow people to camp out on our property here on Huntsville Road location,” Deuel said.

The City of Florence provided supplies that could be used by those overflow guests.

“It was very new for us,” Deuel said. “Trying to social distance, and wear masks, and sanitize, and still serve all of the individuals that we had here was a challenge, but we were able to do it with the support of some really great people and just able to do things for the community that we never thought we could do.”

Deuel said the need lessened through summer. About a dozen of the individuals who stayed during that time now volunteer and have found housing, but with temperatures dropping, Deuel is expecting more people in need of shelter, in a time when COVID-19 numbers are on the rise.

“That is a situation where all of our residents are required to wear masks and the situation where they sleep in a bunk above someone, of course, they keep their head on the opposite side of the bed,” Deuel said. “All of our beds are partitioned by walls so that makes it a little bit easier.”

As of Tuesday, the shelter is not at capacity and Deuel explained this is because The Salvation Army does all it can to make sure that guests are able to get back on their feet, either with helping them find employment or permanent housing.

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