The Crossing Outreach Ministry has continued to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic to help individuals turn their lives around in St. Joseph, but soon it will have to do so without a key source of funding.
Come June 30, Mosaic Life Care will no longer play a role in financing the facility. That amounts to more than $800,000 annually for the Urban Mission Collaboration over the next couple years.
“Our hope is the community steps in to provide financial assistance to make sure this critical aid continues for vulnerable populations in St. Joseph,” Mosaic Life Care officials said in a statement sent to News-Press NOW. “These difficult, yet necessary, organizational adjustments for Mosaic were made to ensure Mosaic is here for decades to come to provide health care for our region.”
Danny Gach said the Crossing will continue to push ahead despite the financial burdens that may hit the Urban Mission, which is a group that includes Community Action Partnership, the City of St. Joseph’s Health Department, Pivotal Point Transitional Housing and the St. Joseph Police Department.
Gach called Mosaic a tremendous partner and thanked the organization for its help.
The Crossing currently has a more than 20 individuals living at the shelter, but it has the capacity to house more than 60 people. During the pandemic, the shelter has stopped letting new guests in due to safety precautions.
Larry Stewart is CAP’s community health worker, and since April he has been able to help more than a dozen individuals move out of the Crossing.
“While the shelter in place was in order, we had a lot of people that were able to come to the shelter to stay but weren’t allowed to leave,” Stewart said.
That allowed him to focus on finding housing for individuals, including Helen Cook.
She is a proud grandmother who can now show off her apartment to her new grandson, Jacob, who was born this past Friday.
Before she was able to exit the Crossing, Stewart talked to landlords in town until he found Paul Robinson. He rents some of his apartments to seniors who do not have to pay utilities, which helps Cook since she is living on a limited income.
“The landlord was very helpful,” Stewart said. “The end result is now she’s living in her own apartment.”
Cook invited News-Press NOW into her one-bedroom apartment which was furnished through donations.
“Well, a regular bed is comfortable,” Cook said. “I like Larry, you know, he’s a nice guy ... if the Crossing wasn’t there I think I’d still be on the streets.”
Pulling up to a tattoo shop looks a little different these days as customers are greeted at their car by employees to check them in for appointments.
Independent Tattoo Co. only allows customers inside who have an appointment to limit the people inside the shop.
Extra sanitization and sterilization of tools and work areas has always been a high priority for Independent, but Nick Spencer, a body piercer, said they’ve had to increase the time between each appointment.
“We have to take a little longer with a complete break down to make sure we sanitize in between each and every one, which we had already been doing,” Spencer said.
One of the more difficult rules to have customers follow is only allowing the customer getting the procedure done inside.
“We’re used to having people for moral support and even the first tattoo is a big family event,” Spencer said. “It gives us a chance to talk to our clients a little more one-on-one and get them through it ourselves.”
Spencer said customers have chosen to FaceTime family or friends instead to still have that support during procedures.
Employees meet each customer at their cars to make sure they have a mask and aren’t running a temperature before coming inside.
“We had to turn our open sign off just so we don’t have the foot flow of walk-ins,” Spencer said. “We, unfortunately, still do have to stop some people and tell them make sure to have an appointment.”
Requiring all workers to wear masks isn’t a completely new concept for Independent employees. Before the pandemic started, some wore masks to protect themselves if they or a client was sick.
Spencer said the normal work flow is different considering they’re constantly needing to be on their toes and catching up on past appointments, but employees are happy to be back.
“We’re all independently employed, so a lot of us don’t get the unemployment benefits and our bills were all still coming, so we’re glad to be back,” Spencer said.
In the first two weeks of being open Spencer said all employees and customers have complied with the new guidelines to create the safest possible environment.
“At the end of the day we know we did everything as safe as we possibly could and we don’t feel that we did put people at risk,” Spencer said.
Not all St. Joseph tattoo shops have reopened since the shelter-in-place order was lifted, but Independent said as long as the guidelines go on, they’ll still be able to work successfully.
A Department of Justice grant that will help the St. Joseph Police Department purchase protective equipment was approved Monday, and more public safety funding could be on the way.
The City Council voted unanimously to accept a grant worth $96,453 to purchase masks, gloves, coveralls, shields, disinfecting supplies and more for the Police Department. Funds also were set aside to supply housing and meals for employees that may need to be quarantined, and some funds will go toward overtime pay and benefits.
Last week, Police Chief Chris Connally told News-Press NOW that so far, the department has been able to provide all the equipment officers needed to keep themselves safe, although it has relied on some donations and employees mixing hand sanitizer. This money, he believes, should be efficient to keep the department supplied with needed PPE for the time being.
During Monday night’s meeting, the council also approved applications for two grants that would provide gear for local firefighters to keep them safe from smoke, flames and COVID-19.
Authorization to apply for an “Assistance to Firefighters” grant through the Department of Homeland Security in the amount of $652,800 to buy Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses was approved.
The council also approved authorization to apply for a $56,160 “Assistance to Firefighters” grant that would be used to purchase filters for SCBA designed to protect the firefighters from COVID-19.
Councilmember Russell Moore, a former SJFD battalion chief, said some funds from the grants also could be used to purchase gear to replace aging turnout gear that protects firefighters from heat.
Moore is glad to see funds coming from higher up to pay for protection of local public safety workers.
“There’s added protection and anything that gives added protection is a great thing,” Moore said. “Hopefully, the grant money will pass through and we’ll be awarded some of that. I welcome the federal government’s help.”
More said the money will help to keep firefighters safe”on the streets and the inside of a burning home,” which is good for the entire community.
“The city is certainly benefited by the grants, because that’s money that we don’t have to spend to buy turnout gear,” Moore said.
He said some of the SCBA equipment also is getting old, and needs to be replaced for safety purposes.
The firefighter grants do require a local match. In total, the city would have to spend about $64,450 if the grants were approved.
The first set of results have come in from community testing done this weekend at Mosaic Life Care.
A total of 1,593 individuals participated in the weekend COVID-19 community testing clinic. On Saturday, 834 tests were conducted, and 759 tests were done on Sunday.
Results have been received from 814 of the tests, with nearly all coming from Saturday and most Sunday results still pending. Of the 814 results so far, just nine were returned as positive.
Staff from Mosaic Life Care is handling notification to those who test positive, and the St. Joseph Health Department is handling contact tracing of those positive cases.
The remaining results will be shared when available.
At LifeLine Foods, a second employee has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to an email sent to staff.
The company learned of the positive result on Monday, according to the correspondence, and informed employees who had worked closely with the affected individual over the last 14 days.
LifeLine Foods announced the first case at its plant at the beginning of May.
Statewide, Missouri recorded 10,945 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The number of cases is up by 156 from 10,789 on Sunday, resulting in a 1.5% increase.
The number of deaths increased from 594 to 605.
Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University, which also counts presumptive positive cases, is reporting 11,090 cases in Missouri and 605 deaths.
In Buchanan County, 520 people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Mosaic Life Care has issued 3,864 tests its service area, with 194 returning a positive result, 3,630 a negative result and 40 still pending. Thirteen people are inpatients in St. Joseph, one individual is an inpatient in Albany.
Kansas recorded 8,340 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, up from 7,886 on Friday. A total of 173 people have died. The Kansas Department of Health announced it is ending daily reporting and instead will release numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.