The Bethany House, longtime Rochester shelter, to close due to COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A long-running shelter in the community is closing its door in the wake of the coronavirus, leaving staff faced with the task of helping those that are now finding themselves homeless. 

The Bethany House has been running for 43 years, 11 of those on Joseph Avenue. The house is staffed mostly by volunteers, but as many are finding themselves shut indoors because of COVID-19, the house has had to temporarily close it’s doors.

Lisa Reeves has worked at the Bethany House for the last two years but she’s never seen it this empty.

“Usually the house is, it’s very quite here right now the rooms are empty,” said Lisa Reeves, Bethany house staff.

The shelter provides housing for woman and children in need, but hallways are filling with bags as guests pack up, some leaving the only home they have

“A lot of times this is it for them, they have no other place to go. We’ve had people coming from living in their car, in abandoned buildings,” said Reeves.

The house also provides a food pantry, open to the community, with free bags of food given out each day. The shelves are still full and problem is not supply, but staff.

“We have a lot of volunteers and interns and we actually have a woman that works here from overseas in Germany and we lost all that staffing so we don’t have enough bodies to keep the operation running,” said Reeves.

The three woman who were living here have been put in touch with relocation services, but still many face anxiety and uncertainty over the next step.

“We have volunteers that are here, and then at night, we have a full dinner where we cook. This table’s full.[Now] This is an empty table, you know, it’s sad,” said Reeves.

The close is only temporary as the world deals with COVID-19. Staff here hope to re-group after the crisis and will open the doors as soon as possible.

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