Story of the Week
COVID-19: YOUNG WOMEN ON THE FRONT LINES OF SERVICE
Two young women, Luna Shen and Alana Mason, both 23, are VHCB AmeriCorps on the front lines, serving homeless families at the John Graham Shelter. They are part of a team working around the clock to staff the shelters, deliver food and supplies, and provide services and care to homeless families at John Graham’s sites throughout Addison County. From reassuring the anxious and caring for children, to doing laundry all while constantly sanitizing, this team is on it!
“My job is to maintain the safety and comfort of the residents,” said Alana. “I’m not afraid, but I do have heightened awareness. I’m checking in with people every day. Getting everyone to follow the hygiene rules has become very important. You model best practices, and a lot of times you just take things into our own hands to maintain cleanliness standards, “ she said
“There is a lot of radical compassion,” said Luna Shen, who just graduated from Middlebury College in February. “I feel lucky to be here for people who need a lot of support. It would be hard to turn away from the suffering. There is collective grief in the air and people cycle through stages of being receptive, angry, tense or panicked. They also feel grateful and try to find a new normal. They feel supported. There are moments of joy in the Shelter where everything is suspended: a 10 year old is teaching me to do a new dance to a video game!” she said.
Alana is finding that now there is more emphasis on human relationships. “Yesterday a young father and I made muffins for people in the shelter and he told me about his life. He confided some of the things he’s been through. It might not have happened in another time. Then today a group of us -- residents and staff -- all did our own nails: at a distance, but together. Some people are losing their jobs, others are about to give birth. But there is no worry about losing housing. People are safe here,” she said.