The whole world has been reeling as we figure out how best to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. This has led to many closings, and delays through every facet of life and industry. Our HCRN homeowners have not escaped these delays, and it has been our highest priority to resume work on these homes. At HCRN, our most valuable and important asset is our volunteer teams. Because of volunteer labor, HCRN is able to rebuild homes at 30% of the cost of a traditional contractor. Volunteers are pivotal to getting families back home. Today we’re going to talk about what the continuation of our projects looks like, what we expect from volunteers and a few of our new protocols. Our responsibility is for the health and safety of our volunteer teams, and especially the communities we bring those teams in to.

With the pandemic ongoing, HCRN has begun taking extra precautions to protect our staff, volunteers and to finish homes. To do this we have begun hiring more builders, a break from our model, but a necessity to fulfill our promises to homeowners and the communities in Northern California. In hiring, we are focusing on out of work, local construction workers. In Sonoma County, we have already hired on extra help, and have covered the cost of payroll through a grant provided by The United Way. Lake County will also be seeking funding to hire additional laborers.

HCRN has spoken with other volunteer agencies and experts on what effect the novel coronavirus will have on volunteerism for the near future. Some estimates are saying that we will not be anywhere near a normal level of volunteering until winter of 2021. We will continue to follow state and federal guidelines, and look forward to having teams return to HCRN rebuild camps. From conversations with team leaders who have postponed their trips, the volunteers are still ready and eager to help families return home. It is now a matter of how do we best protect those who want to serve with us?

Though we are unsure of when volunteer teams will return, we have established new protocol for any groups serving with us while the pandemic continues. These will begin before the team even leaves for our camp. Team leaders will survey their group, and take temperatures before travel. Upon arrival to HCRN housing, each team will immediately be asked to shower and change clothing. Additionally, we will no longer be doing buffet style meals in our camps, and sack lunches will also be made by the kitchen crew instead of our normal assembly line style. We will ask for six feet of distance between all those on a work site, including our construction staff. We will not be sharing tools onsite unless they have been sanitized between uses.

The world is changing, and HCRN is working to meet those changes. We can’t wait for volunteers to return, but in the mean time we will continue Rebuilding Homes and Restoring Lives. Look for further updates next week as we continue to outline new protocols and safety guidelines. In the mean time, if you have the ability to donate, we would appreciate your generosity. COVID-19 has drastically reduced the number of donations we have received. We know the whole world is struggling, but you can still make an impact here in Northern California.