Here at Renesting, we have been so excited about being able to reopen, even though it is a slow and complicated process.
We have introduced new protocols and a reduced calendar to keep our volunteers, donors, clients, and staff as safe as possible per the guidelines introduced by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections Public Safety Services.
Where we used to welcome as many volunteers as we could, we have now reduced the number of available volunteer hours and slots. This reduction is in line with the State Fire Marshal’s Open Safely protocols and guidelines. Instead of a full day of volunteering we have cut the shift down to end at noon. This gives our staff time at the end of the day to clean each area and also eliminates the need for volunteers to take a lunch break- since we don’t have suitable space for social distancing while eating.
We require all volunteers to wear a mask when inside the building. When a volunteer arrives we have clean masks and aprons available for them to use. Once masked, we take the volunteer’s temperature with a no-touch thermometer before they sign-in. We have an amazing stock of pens so have turned them into single-use. The dirty pens don’t get thrown away though! Just put in a bag to be used after a suitable amount of time has passed.
A hamper for dirty aprons is hung in the sorting area and a bin for dirty masks is placed by the front door so volunteers can remove their masks right before exiting the building.
Each area is equipped with a “sanitation station.” These stations have disposable gloves, hand sanitizers, cleaners, and wipes. Every sink (3 total) in the building is stocked with hand soap and paper towels. We want every volunteer to feel as though they have the tools necessary to stay safe while serving.
We have completely changed our donation drop-off protocol. Drop-offs are now by appointment ONLY and occur every Thursday. Incoming donations are placed in a designated area of the warehouse and quarantined there until the following Tuesday. This reduces the risk to the volunteers who are cleaning, sorting, and handling all the donations. It also reduces the risk to the clients who will be receiving those items.
When a donor makes an appointment to drop-off, we collect their contact information so if we become aware of a confirmed case here at the Nest we can effectively reach out to all people that have been at the warehouse. We hope it never happens, but we want to be prepared.
Our pick-up service has been completely suspended and we do not have any information on when it will resume. In an effort to reduce the risk for our staff, volunteers, and donors we are not sending either to other people’s homes to pick up donations. We know this is frustrating, but it is in the best interests of our supporters that we are making this decision.
Before our temporary closure, we served clients in three ways: pick-up, delivery, and Renest. We have not yet resumed our delivery or Renest services. In an effort to reduce the risk to our clients and volunteers we are not sending volunteers to our clients’ homes to drop-off or set up their belongings.
When clients come to the Nest to pick-up their items they are required to wear a mask. We ask that anyone (especially children) not needed to load items, stay in the vehicle.
The ‘personal items’ kits we give to clients have been updated to include a new reusable mask. We want to give them hand sanitizer, but we do not have any available! We do however, have hand sanitizer near the pick-up area for clients to use when they arrive and before they depart.
We miss having volunteers in the warehouse, we miss greeting donors as they brought us gently used furniture and household items, and we miss the smiling faces of those we serve. The global pandemic has changed the way we interact with everyone in and out of the warehouse. We know that wearing a mask is tedious and frustrating. We know not getting to eat lunch together is disheartening. We know and we are just as frustrated and lonely. BUT! We care about you. We want you to be safe. And that’s why these changes will become the new normal at the Nest.