Bridges is Continuing to Serve Newark's Homeless During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Mar 25, 2020

Bridges Executive Director Rich Uniacke continues to help the homeless in Newark during the coronavirus pandemic
Credit Rich Uniacke

The non-profit organization Bridges was founded in 1988 with its mission to end homelessness through volunteer-driven outreach and individual case management focusing on health, housing and independence.

Bridges Executive Director Rich Uniacke spoke with WBGO News Director Doug Doyle about how the organization is handling the coronavirus pandemic and the need for donations.

Bridges continues to serve the homeless and run its Outreach Runs each week without the aid of volunteers and without their donations of Brown Bag Lunches, Toiletry Kits and other supplies.

Uniacke says his group is using the proper protective gear while they continue to form relationships with those experiencing homelessness and attempt to meet the most urgent needs.

"We've been fitted for masks by the health department, the N-95 masks to keep our team safe.  We're also increasing the amount of time we're spending on the streets because its such a critical need right now that everybody be engaged and that we get a handle on who is unsheltered, who is sheltered, who is symptomatic.  The City (Newark) is working very hard  to stand up some additional capacity because there's going to be unfortunately in coming days and weeks quite a lot of people we expect are symptomatic and sick, but not sick enough to take up a hospital bed.  Those are going to be at quite a premium.  They're going to need a place to go.  The reality is if our team gets sick we don't have anybody out there."

A Bridges Outreach worker on the street this week in Newark
Credit Rich Uniacke

Uniacke says Bridges' outreach is become more and more challenging during this health crisis.

"Penn Station is changing.  The waiting rooms are shutting down to avoid any congregant setting.  So the folks who typically stay there, live there, see their world changing, so what we've observed as they see their world change they've been more and more willing to accept sheltered transport and shelter placement and we think that' the best thing for them.  So they can get a nice warm place to sleep and stay.  They can get meals and people can be checking on them to make sure if symptoms develop they go where they need to go." 

If you want more information about Bridges, you can go to their website.

Click above to hear the entire interview with Rich Uniacke.