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Women’s center slowly starts to reopen

Shelters begin to resume operations that had to stop during COVID-19
Updated: Jun. 3, 2020 at 12:31 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s been a challenge navigating COVID-19 for those who serve vulnerable populations.

For many shelters in Southern Arizona it’s meant cutting back on services to adhere to social distancing, for others it’s meant not letting anyone inside at all.

Sister Jose Women’s Center on South Park Avenue had to do just that.

For years, Executive Director Jean Fedigan served hundreds of homeless women. Between 100 and 125 women every day, according to Fedigan. She allows them to come inside, shower and offers them a place to sleep.

Services like letting women inside to shower and stay the night stopped when COVID-19 started. In the meantime they continued to serve food from their front doors, safely and from a distance.

“It was awful, but I also knew that I had to protect the volunteers that I had and the people staying here,” Fedigan said.

Fedigan decided to quarantine the women who slept in her shelter before they made the decision to close.

Accommodations were made, 10-foot square barriers were made along the floor, and not a single case of COVID-19 found it’s way inside.

“We literally said to the women please don’t leave you’re not allowed to leave we have to keep you safe,” said Fedigan.

Thirty women were quarantined, only 12 remain as some have been able to find housing. A nod towards getting things back on track. Most recently, as of the end of May, it’s been letting women back into the shower.

“I take their temperature and make sure their okay I give them a new set of clothing so when they’re showering, they’re putting on a new set of clothes," Fedigan said.

It’s limited operations but compared to none at all, it’s means everything.

“It is such a blessing,” Fediga said.

But there’s still a ways to go. For now, help will continue to be handed out from a distance. Until the final decision to re-open can be made.

Fedigan said once all the original quarantined women are out, they will close their overnight services for construction to add more beds, and then re-open to more women when they can.

They are in need of Gatorade, electrolyte packages, and canned goods with pop-tops so they can be opened easily. Sister Jose also allows animals and Fedigan said they are always looking for puppy booties in different sizes.

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