WINCHESTER — The Congregational-Community Action Project (C-CAP) at 112 S. Kent St. closed Tuesday over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The nonprofit organization provides food, clothing and financial assistance to local residents.
C-CAP President Frances Salmon said on Tuesday the organization served 1,300 homes and 3,500 individuals in December.
Salmon said the decision to close C-CAP until further notice was done for the safety of the organization's volunteers and clients.
“Public health care and the CDC and everyone else is recommending social distancing and self-quarantine as an effective means for slowing this virus,” Salmon said. “And we just want to do our part on that."
She added that many of the organization’s volunteers, most of whom are older and more at risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus, have removed themselves from the volunteer pool.
“People just don’t want to put themselves out there,” Salmon said. “They don’t want to be exposed to this, and I can’t say that I blame them.”
Salmon is hesitant to use teens or college-aged students as volunteers during the pandemic, even though Gov. Ralph Northam has directed schools to be closed for the remainder of the academic year.
“I know some organizations are using school-aged kids, but that doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy,” Salmon said. “I just think kids are not always as cautious as they could be and they always feel like they are invincible. So I personally, as the leader of this organization, do not think that’s the best idea.”
Salmon added that she is probably at high risk of contracting or spreading the virus since she usually interacts with about 100 people on a daily basis. She said she is worried about the homeless people who rely on C-CAP, as they now have few places to go with restaurants and public facilities closed or operating on a limited basis throughout the community.
“This is very difficult for me,” Salmon said. “It’s certainly a lot easier for me to run this organization than it would be to close this organization. I would much rather be open.”
Those who rely on C-CAP for food may be able to get it elsewhere, she said.
The Winchester Rescue Mission and the local Salvation Army are providing meals to people who come to their locations, although there are no beds available in either shelter.
The Salvation Army provide meals at noon outside its location at 300 Fort Collier Road.
The Winchester Rescue Mission is distributing to-go meals at 10 a.m. and serving lunch outside at 11 a.m. on weekdays and serving dinner outside at 5 p.m. daily. Executive Director Brandan Thomas said everyone picking up food is asked to stand 6-feet apart, to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Highland Food Pantry at 446 Highland Ave. in Winchester remains operational, but those in need of food are not allowed to go inside. Instead, they are handed a prepared box of items. The pantry is open Tuesdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley is also working to connect those who have been impacted by COVID-19 to the resources they need. The organization has complied resources at unitedwaynsv.org/covid-19-resources. Those without internet access can call 540-536-1610.