From the Desk of Richard Ducatenzeiler, Franciscan Outreach Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Thank you for standing with Franciscan Outreach as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause major disruptions in our daily lives. Every day, we receive heartfelt messages from our friends and supporters who are reaching out to let us know that the men and women we serve each day are in their thoughts and prayers.

As you know, Franciscan Outreach exists as a safety net for men and women who rely on us to provide for their immediate basic human needs and who count on us to safeguard them from harm. During these critical days, at the same time that we are meeting people’s basic needs, we are also screening individuals who are exhibiting signs of illness and who are more susceptible to illness because of underlying medical conditions.

The fact is that we are very concerned about our ability to be able to maintain social distancing and isolation practices for the prevention and spread of illness among the hundreds of guests we serve each day. We are particularly concerned about our guests who are most vulnerable, including people who are 60 years old or older and have health conditions that put them at greater risk.

To address these concerns, we are working under the guidelines of the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). We are also working closely with our community partners, including Rush University Medical Center, Heartland Alliance, Lawndale Christian Health Center, University of Illinois Hospital and A Safe Haven to address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors who are experiencing homelessness and are at greater risk of illness.

During this past week, Rush, which operates an onsite health clinic at our largest shelter in North Lawndale, has been instrumental in helping us to put protective measures in place to minimize the risk of infection and transmission. They have provided education and training to our staff on how to identify and respond to signs of illness. They have also implemented a nightly on-call service that is staffed by Rush physicians and clinicians to answer any questions Franciscan Outreach staff may have concerning our guests’ health.

Many people are asking if there is anything they can do during this time of uncertainty to help us as we support our most vulnerable neighbors. The most effective thing you can do right now is to make a financial contribution to Franciscan Outreach. We have incurred a number of direct costs and are experiencing a tremendous loss of productivity due to staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the practices of social distancing have caused many of us to feel alone and isolated, it’s important to remember that these feelings are already a real part of the everyday lives of people who are experiencing homelessness. These anxieties have become exacerbated during these difficult times.

Thank you for keeping our Chicago neighbors in need in your thoughts and prayers.

With deep appreciation,

Richard Ducatenzeiler
Executive Director