Dear Faith and Interfaith Partners,
For many Philadelphians, these past several days and weeks have been disorienting. We are adjusting to different routines and the loss of physical connection and even financial stability. We are juggling many needs and priorities that seem to conflict. We are tending to our own health and the health of those around us. We are journeying on an uncertain road.
For those who find grounding and hope in faith and spirituality, this unprecedented moment is an invitation to be encouraged through prayer and meditation.
Join us on Facebook Live each week on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3 p.m. for Prayer Pauses for Philadelphia. Like the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement on Facebook to receive a notification about the live stream. A leader from one of our many faith communities will join me and guide us through a short prayer for health, peace, and wisdom during this destabilizing season.
If you have any questions or concerns, please connect with Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Director of Faith-based and Interfaith Affairs in the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement for support at FaithPHL@phila.gov.
Friends, please be safe and be well.
Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart
Updates and resources
If you need any further information or clarifications, please email Rev. Naomi at FaithPHL@phila.gov.
What is the latest guidance from the City about mitigating the spread of the coronavirus?
The City has issued a New Business Activity and Stay at Home Order that details restrictions on business activity, personal activity, and public gatherings in Philadelphia in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please review it and make sure your congregations review it as well.
We have medical questions about COVID-19. Who should we connect with?
The Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-722-7112. The Helpline is free and available 24/7 as a resource for anyone in the Greater Philadelphia area, including public and healthcare providers, to answer all questions about COVID-19. This helpline is staffed by medical experts. Additional information on the helpline is available here. Please use this helpline or refer your congregants or community members to this line ONLY if you or they have a medical concern related to COVID-19.
How can we get daily updates about the impact of COVID-19 in Philadelphia?
Tune in every weekday at 1 p.m. for COVID-19 briefings from the Mayor’s Office and the Philadelphia Department of Health. You can watch via Facebook, Twitter, PHLGovTV, or on channels 64 (Comcast) and 40/41 (Verizon). To receive COVID-19 text alerts from the City of Philadelphia, text COVIDPHL to 888-777.
Where can people who are experiencing food insecurity get food during this health emergency?
The City and partners are coordinating many free food distribution efforts. Visit this page for the specific locations and their contact information.
How is the City supporting nonprofit organizations that provide essential services and resources during this public health emergency?
Last week, the City launched the PHL COVID-19 Fund with the support of the Philadelphia Foundation, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern NJ and other philanthropic partners. The Fund brings together a diverse coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners to create a regional rapid response funding source that complements the work of regional public health officials and expands local capacity to address the effects of this national emergency on the Greater Philadelphia Region as efficiently as possible.
If your church, parish, masjid, synagogue, or faith-based organization is a registered 501(c)(3) – meaning you’ve filed for this official designation with the IRS – you are eligible to apply for assistance through this grant program. If you are not a registered 501(c)(3), you can consider partnering with an eligible nonprofit organization for consideration.
How can the members of my faith community access mental health or addiction support? If we are temporarily closing our building and suspending our services to practice social distancing, what support can our congregation give to the recovery programs we host?
The Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual and disability Services is providing support to anyone needing mental health or addiction counseling. DBHIDS is operating a 24/7 support hotline for people experiencing mental health crises: 215-685-6440.
My congregation needs volunteers to continue a food pantry program we run. My congregation includes members who would like to volunteer during this crisis. What should we do?
The Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service is working to connect residents to volunteer opportunities with the organizations that are providing critical services and resources to our most vulnerable communities.
Residents who wish to support these efforts can sign up for shifts on serve.volunteermatch.org. Any nonprofit that is continuing its operations and needs volunteers can post opportunities on serve.volunteermatch.org or email email@example.com.
We want all organizations, including houses of worship, to adhere to the most recent guidance from the CDC and City – staying at home and not interacting with those outside the family group. We are urging people to stop continuing business as usual and to refrain from creating new opportunities to gather.
If you have food already available for people who need it, it should be pre-packaged and ONLY available for grab and go. Instead of having committees of volunteers come to your program to pack the bags/boxes, have one person at a time do the packing, while observing all sanitizing and hygiene guidance listed on the City website.
Our congregation would like to offer the use of our building/space to support the City’s response to COVID-19. What should we do?
We are grateful for your interest! Please fill out this form so that our Emergency Operations Center can be in touch.
How is the City supporting unsheltered populations during this public health emergency?
The Office of Homeless Services (OHS) is open for business. OHS is coordinating to support unsheltered populations to provide housing accommodation to isolate or quarantine anyone who may have been exposed to prevent spread in the unsheltered community.
Shelters remain open to welcome those who desire to come inside, and shelter employees are screening for the virus as people arrive – those with COVID-19 symptoms are transported to the appropriate medical facilities to receive care. OHS outreach teams are dispatched all over the city, and they are handing out hygiene kits and educating persons about how to stay healthy. Youth Access Points are still open, including Valley Youth House and Covenant House.
OHS partner organizations are providing free meals at several locations in Center City, and Rev. Naomi is involved in a joint effort with OHS to begin outdoor meal sites in key areas for people experiencing homelessness. Stay tuned.
If you’d like to support this work by making a donation to the shelters or OHS partner organizations, please email Rev. Naomi at FaithPHL@phila.gov to be connected.
How can we support youth during this crisis?
Consult this messaging for parents, school staff, and others working with children from the CDC and guidance for pregnant people, newborns, and children from the City.
The Uplift Center for Grieving Children also offers these resources to help our congregations support and care for children and youth during this time:
- Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource (from the National Association of School Psychologists)
- Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus, in English & in Spanish! (from the Child Mind Institute)
- Video for Youth (9 and over) About the Coronavirus (from BrainPOP)