The Upper Room Mission’s general manager Naomi Rouck is doing everything in her power to ensure that Vernon’s most vulnerable population is provided for during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
And she’s doing it almost single-handedly.
Her days start before 6:30 a.m. when she begins to prepare breakfasts for those experiencing homelessness and others who rely on the mission, such as low-income seniors.
Breakfast was missed by guests, Rouck said. Now, a new grab-and-go takeout-style breakfast is offered.
“When they saw the coffee pot set up, they jumped for joy,” Rouck said.
“It’s the little things that make people happy,” she said May 6. “People tend to forget that. It’s not about the money, it’s about the friendship and the connection we make with our guests.”
Bacon, eggs, sausages, pancakes and more are prepped and available for guests between 9:30-10:30 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. But even on those days, it’s not served, Rouck said she is still there.
“I’m here all day long by myself,” Rouck said. “When guests knock on the door, I open and always hand out what they need.”
From shoes to blankets and everything in between, Rouck said she’s there to ensure needs are being met.
“We’re not leaving anyone out in the cold,” she said.
But Rouck said she is looking forward for when things can return to normal.
“For now, we’re playing it day-by-day,” she said as she awaits the magic words from the province that will allow her to reopen the doors of both the mission and the boutique, which closed March 20.
As the doors to the boutique closed, the donations and financial support slowed.
“We could always use donations,” Rouck said. “I do know that people are trying to watch their own pennies right now, but we still need donations for breakfasts and coffee and stuff like that.”
“We make due with what we have,” she said. “I’m diligent.”
In the meantime, Rouck said her guests seem happy and grateful for what the Upper Room Mission can provide.
Several volunteers have also voiced they are eager to return.
Rouck said she won’t be putting any volunteers on the schedule until it is safe to do so.
“Where we are, basically I can’t protect anyone right now,” Rouck said. “My volunteers are what make the mission go when we open full time again and I want to see everyone back at that point in time.”
“I sure do miss them.”
Rouck and the Upper Room Mission continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and continues to follow the health directives outlined from provincial health officials.