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Salvation Army continues to serve those in need through pandemic

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- Like many other organizations, The Salvation Army in Waterloo & Cedar Falls has had to make adjustments during the pandemic, from enforcing social distancing measures, wearing masks, to even changing their hours of operations to being open for 24 hours.

They also had to get creative when the repercussions of the pandemic settled in. For instance, in January there were a number of men in the Men's Shelter off of Argyle St that tested positive for COVID-19. They sheltered in-place, while all the other men were safely relocated to another facility.

Those men made full recoveries, and there were no deaths in the shelters from COVID.

Aside from this one, small outbreak, another effect The Salvation Army felt from the pandemic's impact is the influx of people in need of their services.

Many who have not had steady employment throughout the pandemic, and are facing eviction notices have visited The Salvation Army for solutions.

"Seventy percent of the people who have come to us in need have come to us for the very first time. They've never needed services before, they've never needed our assistance before," said Major Shannon Thies, Core Officer of the Waterloo Salvation Army.

At the start of the pandemic, The Salvation Army had to reduce their capacity in-take by half due to the unknowns. They are now back open to housing their usual numbers, and have readjusted the position of the beds in rooms where there two men or women assigned.

The men's shelter is currently at full capacity, with 18 men in their program for four-to-six weeks. The women's shelter, however, has plenty of room available. Major Thies explained there are more options for women, especially women with children, to access resources to sheltering in place.

Major Thies reassured that when people visit the shelters and cannot be accepted due to the full capacity, they instead will help them get connected with agencies in the area that can assist with defaulting on rent, utility bills, or even contacting the person's family members for temporary housing. Some of The Salvation Army's partners includes, Jesse Cosby Neighborhood Center, the Eastside Ministerial Alliance, Operation Threshold, and The Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

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Dani Miskell

Weekend Anchor & Reporter

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