ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Recovering from the trauma of a house fire or unemployment requires help from people you can build a relationship with. For agencies like the Salvation Army, building that trust has been harder with the pandemic, as many services had to be modified.
But starting this week, The Salvation Army of Greater Rochester is resuming one-on-one appointments, in-person for the first time in over a year. The center says this is a game-changer when it comes to connecting with clients and building trust.
“We’ve been still distributing food, still helping people with vouchers but it’s been at a distance,” said Matthew Smeltzer, Family Emergency Services Manager for Salvation Army of Greater Rochester.
He says food distribution has increased significantly throughout the pandemic – about 80 grocery bags are going out the door daily.
While he says community support has been great for these donations, the high numbers indicate a problem – and it’s part of their role is getting to the root of it.
This is where those one-on-one consultations come into play.
“The community has been asking us all along when are we going to start these services again,” said Smeltzer.
Smeltzer says it means a lot to have these face-to-face interactions back. And the work goes beyond just handing out items – but asking a client, how they’re really doing.
“Maybe they had to stop working to be at home with their child for online learning, or their employment had to downsize so, we get to those more in-depth things that you can’t do really from a distance,” said Smeltzer.
Meg Rossman with Red Cross of Western New York partners with the Salvation Army depending on someone’s situation. She agrees that when someone is struggling – they need that emotional connection just as much as food or clothing.
“A lot of times folks just need someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on and our volunteers are here for them in all aspects of the recovery,” said Rossman.
Even if it’s just a sliver of hope.
“Making those connections especially in an emergency situation is so important,” she said.
For this next phase of assistance, The Salvation Army has put in place extensive safety precautions, including increasing amounts of PPE and social distancing measures.