Being a Friend in Times of Need

Being a Friend in Times of Need

Friends & Neighbors of Pennsylvania, Inc. (F&N) is an emerging nonprofit focused on assisting the unhoused population in York County with finding shelter and providing medical services. Shortly before the pandemic began, the York County Coalition on Homelessness counted 32 unsheltered people in York County. As of January 26, 2022, the unsheltered population was comprised of 97 people from 68 households. That’s a 203% increase.

“Those numbers are much higher than we saw pre-pandemic” explained Kelly Blechertas, Program Coordinator with The York County Coalition on Homelessness. With a grant from Memorial Health Fund in 2021, Robin Shearer, Executive Director at F&N says her organization’s Coordinated Street Outreach Medicine program has been able to help provide critical medical care to over 100 people as of February 2022. “Our goal is to provide informal wellness checks, first aid, and telemedicine services to the unsheltered population throughout York County,” she shared.

Because it has built trusting relationships with the unsheltered community, F&N is uniquely positioned to administer this program in York City and surrounding areas. “It is 100% new and has never been done in York,” Robin explained with excitement. “In the last nine months, we have expanded our services to include first aid treatment with the approval of an individual. We are changing bandages and providing blister and foot care – which is an ongoing need in the unsheltered population. We also provide amputee socks, schedule doctors’ appointments, and pick up or purchase prescriptions for those in need,” shared Robin.

Most of the unsheltered population have limited access to resources, except for the care they receive from the F&N team. The goal is to prevent more serious medical complications that lead to hospital stays or higher morbidity rates before a person has been connected to housing.

The grant from the Memorial Health Fund was crucial to F&N’s ability to address the health and safety of York’s unsheltered population. It not only allowed Robin, her staff, and volunteers to build relationships of trust with vulnerable people but also helped shed light on a critical need in the unsheltered community that is often overlooked and neglected.