COLUMBIA, S.C. — The emergency shelter at Oliver Gospel Mission is currently closed due to coronavirus concerns.
Oliver Gospel is a men's homeless center that has a four-phase program with residents as well as a 24/7 emergency shelter where men can come stay at night.
Currently, three men in the program, who have a temporary residence at the center, have tested positive for COVID-19.
“What happens when something like this happens?" says Sue DeMarco, a Midlands resident who saw online that the shelter was closed, "because it’s more than one person and that’s pretty impactful.”
DeMarco said she saw it all on Facebook. “I actually saw a homeless man posted on one of the ‘for sale/wanted’ posts, and he was looking for assistance because he didn’t know what to do because he went to the Oliver Gospel Mission and it was closed.”
“We have had three of our guys in our program that tested positive for COVID-19," said Executive Director Travis McNeal. "So, we’re just following everything that was planned from the beginning with serving the homeless."
McNeal explained that because they have positive cases with their program members, they have to follow SCDHEC protocols and close their emergency shelter that they ordinarily have open for 28 men a night. McNeal says they are directing everyone to the Inclement Weather Shelter, which is open on nights when the weather is below 40 degrees, for the time being.
“All of our men are going to be tested tomorrow [Friday] by DHEC, and then our three guys that have tested positive, they are following that plan of going to a hotel that DHEC provides for the homeless that are positive," McNeal added.
Those needing shelter can take a COMET bus from COMET Central on Sumter Street to the Inclement Weather Shelter, where they will receive a meal and a bed. You must take the bus there, you cannot walk up.
Oliver Gospel hopes to open its emergency shelter program up as soon as they quarantine and abide by SCDHEC's regulations.
Because of all of this, DeMarco decided she wants to have a drive for supplies for local shelters. If you'd like to contribute, there will be a drive at Sweet Pea's Ice Cream and Cafe at 412 McNulty St. Suite B in Blythewood from 2 p.m.- 7 p.m. You can also send your donations through Venmo or Cashapp at: Cashapp: $SweetpeasBwood or Venmo: @sweetpeas412. To contact DeMarco, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.