The chips may be down, but the community served by Lutheran Settlement House is certainly not being left out.
The Fishtown-based nonprofit provides “life-sustaining” services, from domestic violence counseling to a food pantry for those in need, so it’s still open, but operations have been modified to protect its clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff is working with three other domestic violence agencies in Philadelphia to cover the 24-hour hotline and using video conferencing to offer counseling services.
And, LSH, 1340 Frankford Ave., is still able to help secure a safe place for anyone attempting to leave an abusive relationship.
The biggest changes have been made to how the senior population is served.
“Our senior center can no longer meet on-site,” said David Chiles, executive director at LSH. “Instead, we are calling all of our seniors each week and delivering meals and food from our pantry to almost 90 seniors.”
Previously, LSH served hot lunches to seniors during the week at its Fishtown headquarters, but now staff delivers frozen meals and items from the food pantry directly to them.
And, while businesses around LSH are experiencing their own crisis, with many being shut down or forced to offer only curb-side pickup or delivery, they’ve turned their misfortune into an opportunity to give back.
“Cake Life donated a huge amount of cookies, bars and cakes. Incredible food donations have come to us from Goose Island, Zahav, Goldie and Dizengoff, And, we’ve received other donations from members of the community,” Chiles said.
One major contributor has been Rivers Casino, which ceased operations on March 15.
Formerly known as SugarHouse, the casino developed a relationship with LSH about five year ago, and supports many of the nonprofit’s efforts, from its quarterly community dinners to its annual Women of Courage celebration and fundraiser, according to Emily Doñes, community relations manager at Rivers Casino.
The food donations to LSH “is part of the casino’s Rivers Gives program, which is a year-round community relations initiative,” which sees “team members volunteer 2,000 service hours annually to the Fishtown neighborhood and surrounding areas,” Doñes added.
“We have received multiple truckloads of food from Rivers Casino, including fresh produce and dairy, which can be harder to source,” Chiles added. “Through the crisis, their staff and chefs have been looking out for LSH and those we serve, making sure that the food they can’t serve right now doesn’t go bad, but instead gets onto the plates of those who need it in the community.”
Much like the crisis itself, donating to LSH was a quickly evolving situation, according to Doñes.
“When Rivers Casino decided to close, our food and beverage departments realized we had a lot of perishable items and produce that could potentially go to waste,” she said. “Luckily, chef Andrew Pearce, chef Michael Mangano and events director Dominique Frio knew that LSH would benefit from these donations and worked quickly to collect all items.”
The casino’s donations have benefitted those coming to the food pantry, seniors and families in shelters.
“LSH helps people during the most difficult times, and we hope our fresh food donations will alleviate some of the uncertainties we are all experiencing,” Doñes said.
Chiles also pointed out that while families may be struggling financially, they still have access to healthy food options, thanks to Rivers’ generosity.
“We’re so grateful that they have maintained their incredible commitment to LSH and the community in the middle of this crisis,” he said. “This is an important time for all of us to rally around protecting those who are most vulnerable to this pandemic, and we’re trying to do our part.”
For more information about resources at Lutheran Settlement House, call 215-426-8610 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Anyone experiencing domestic violence can call the 24-hour hotline at 866-723-3014. To volunteer or donate, contact Erica at 215-426-8610, Ext. 1218 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.