Spring, Klein-area nonprofits adapt to ‘new normal’ amid coronavirus pandemic

Northwest Assistance Ministries is one of several Spring and Klein nonprofit organizations that has had to make changes to help keep the coronavirus under control. (Courtesy Northwest Assistance Ministries/Meals on Wheels)
Northwest Assistance Ministries is one of several Spring and Klein nonprofit organizations that has had to make changes to help keep the coronavirus under control. (Courtesy Northwest Assistance Ministries/Meals on Wheels)

Northwest Assistance Ministries is one of several Spring and Klein nonprofit organizations that has had to make changes to help keep the coronavirus under control. (Courtesy Northwest Assistance Ministries/Meals on Wheels)

As the number of coronavirus cases in the Greater Houston area climbs to more than 40 as of March 18, Spring and Klein-area nonprofits are fighting to continue providing services to some of the unincorporated territory’s most vulnerable populations while doing their part to “flatten the curve,” or slow the rate of the virus spreading.

One of the area’s largest nonprofits, Northwest Assistance Ministries, connects individuals with basic needs such as food; clothing; hygiene products; and rent, mortgage, and utility bill assistance, among others. The organization is one of the largest Meals on Wheels providers countywide, serving 24 ZIP codes.

Since the recent coronavirus outbreak, NAM Chief Advancement Officer Brian Carr said the organization has experienced a significant increase in demand for food and other assistance services, and it has taken several steps to promote social distancing at its facility.

“We converted our in-house senior lunch program to home delivery to reduce a large congregation of our most vulnerable population,” Carr said in an email. “We have simplified our intake process to allow for quicker screenings and smaller crowds [and] we adjusted our food pantry process to promote social distance and limit contact with a drive-up service.”

Spring-Woodlands Ministries, a mobile food pantry that has served the community for the past 23 years, has likewise taken steps to protect its most vulnerable clients, which in 2019 included 4,500 seniors who reside in low-income housing. Debbie McCabe, who serves as the president of the organization’s board of directors, said the demand for senior services has escalated, and Spring-Woodlands Ministries has implemented a new protocol to ensure that volunteers have no interaction with the client in hopes of limiting exposure.


“Requirements have been activated for SWM’s ‘Bags of Love’ food distribution to low-income seniors residing in low-income housing,” McCabe said. “SWM volunteers approach a senior’s apartment and place the bag of groceries on the doorstep. The SWM volunteer knocks on the door, identifies themselves and the organization and immediately walks away, [so the volunteer] has no interaction with the senior, however each bag has an encouraging note for them.”

Lending a hand

As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, Hope Center Houston, a day and assistance center that serves the homeless population along the FM 1960 corridor, was forced to close its facility March 14 out of safety concerns for both its volunteers and guests. The center typically provides two hot meals per day and access to showers and clothing as well as counseling, mail and photo ID services.

In the interim, Hope Center Houston Debbie Johnson said the organization would continue to feed its guests by handing out “manna bags” on weekdays from noon-1 p.m. on the front steps of the Hope Center Houston facility.

Helping Others Pursue Excellence Haven, or HOPE Haven, is another nonprofit dedicated to serving Spring and Klein’s homeless population that has had to adapt to the “new normal” amid coronavirus concerns. Executive Director Kristyn Stillwell said one of the biggest adjustments for volunteers is having to refrain from hugging and shaking hands with their clients.

“For the homeless, we have found that many of them are totally unaware of what is going on,” Stillwell said. “So we are educating our clients on the magnitude of the crisis and how best they can protect themselves. [We are] also alerting them of some potential quarantine measures we may be facing so they can be prepared.”

Stillwell added the organization has been bringing out survival food packs that include 60 servings of food in case there is a lockdown in Harris County and homeless clients are unable to access food elsewhere. Volunteers are also required to wear face masks and gloves when handling food to limit exposure.

While each of these nonprofits has adapted differently, they each said their biggest needs at the moment are donations to ensure they can continue providing services.

“Our work still continues, and we are concerned that donations may slow down because people are not able to go to work,” Stillwell said. “So for those who are not financially affected by this catastrophic event, please consider donating so we can keep our team on the front line educating, helping and staying on top of our clients’ well-beings.”
By Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. In January 2019, she was promoted to serve as the editor of the Spring/Klein edition where she covers Spring ISD and Harris County Commissioners Court, in addition to business, development and transportation news.


MOST RECENT

Target has built out its new store at 2075 Westheimer Road, Houston. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Target to open fourth Inner Loop location and more Houston-area business, community news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Baylor College of Medicine is seeking volunteers for a COVID-19 study looking to determine the prevalence of the viral disease in the Houston area. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)
Baylor College of Medicine recruiting participants for COVID-19 prevalence study

The study will collect samples from 70,000 individuals nationwide.

Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston region in 2017. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Houston hydrologist explains climate change’s role in intensified flooding, importance of planning for future storms

“We’re looking at more intense and more frequent storms, and so, as a region, we’re going to need to think about that when we’re planning. We need to plan for that worst-case climate change [scenario].”

Some Harris County residents could be eligible for free workforce training. (Courtesy Lone Star College System)
Harris County partners with Lone Star College to offer free workforce training this fall

Furloughed, unemployed and underemployed Harris County residents could be eligible for one of 17 training programs.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Greater Houston region faces glut of industrial, commercial space and multifamily housing

While the Greater Houston area has seen a glut of office space for the last six years, Patrick Jankowski said the industrial buildup has happened more in the past year and a half.

Located inside a new building on the WoodsEdge campus, the coffeehouse will offer handcrafted espresso, coffee and tea as well as pastries. (Courtesy WoodsEdge Coffee House)
WoodsEdge Community Church to open WoodsEdge Coffee House in Spring

Located inside a new building on the WoodsEdge campus, the coffeehouse will offer handcrafted espresso, coffee and tea as well as pastries

Menu items include fried, grilled and boiled seafood platters as well as Cajun staples ranging from gumbo and shrimp etouffee to boudin balls and po'boys. (Courtesy The Catch)
The Catch now open in Willowbrook area

Menu items include fried, grilled and boiled seafood platters as well as Cajun staples ranging from gumbo and shrimp etouffee to boudin balls and po'boys.

Cy-Fair ISD reopened for virtual and in-person classes Sept. 8. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Cy-Fair ISD reported 65 positive COVID-19 cases among students, staff Oct. 12-18

Cypress Creek High School had more positive cases than any other campus in the district last week, according to CFISD data.

Due to heightened needs brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Bridging For Tomorrow has distributed more than 1 million pounds of food to those in need in just six months, the nonprofit announced Oct. 8. (Courtesy Bridging For Tomorrow)
Spring-based Bridging For Tomorrow distributes 1M pounds of food in 6 months

By comparison, the local food pantry distributed 13,000 pounds of food in all of 2019.

Cy-Fair ISD's newest campus, Rowe Middle School, opened in 2020. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Cy-Fair ISD designates remote learning days for teacher planning purposes

There will be one remote learning day each month through the end of the school year.

The new beauty salon offers manicures and pedicures, featuring classic polish, gel and acrylic nail options. (Courtesy The Nail Parlor)
The Nail Parlor now open on Louetta Road in Spring

The new beauty salon offers manicures and pedicures, featuring classic polish, gel and acrylic nail options.