BOSS in Action in Response to COVID-19
BOSS Outreach Team giving out groceries in West Oakland Sat, 5/2/20
Message from the Executive Director –
Update on COVID-19 Preparedness
(Last updated 5/1/20. Originally published 3/25/20.
This page will be updated as updates are available.)
I realize during these times there may be anxiety, confusion and frustration due to the realities put upon us with the COVID-19 pandemic. I empathize with everyone experiencing these thoughts and feelings as well as those around the world who are dealing with the crisis.
BOSS is at the tip of the spear assisting the most vulnerable people in our society and as fulfilling as it may be – it’s not easy, quite frankly it’s an extremely difficult job. Yet, during this time of uncertainty, we will continue to be a positive motivating force with each other and in the lives of countless human beings who come through our doors providing love, respect, safety and a sense of belonging.
As an essential services provider in the Bay Area, BOSS will continue our work during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have developed a contingency plan that supports staff and participants that mitigates risks of spread. We communicate daily with staff and have weekly calls with county and state health departments and are informed by the Centers for Disease Control to ensure we have the most updated information for the health and safety of the people we serve, our staff, and the community at large.
BOSS formed a Leadership Support Team that meets daily via teleconference to address COVID-19 preparation, response, and post mortem. The Team is led by the Executive Director and consists of Senior Directors (Human Resources & Risk Management; Communications; Operations & Property Management; Programs & Services ) who are responsible for the implementation and management of the contingency plan.
Operational steps taken since the onset of COVID-19:
- BOSS has modified each of our existing programs in a manner appropriate to its operations to continue to provide essential services while reducing the risk of virus transmission.
- BOSS has instructed employees to stay home if sick and encouraged those 6o years and older, immuno-compromized, and/or those with major medical issues to shelter in place at home.
- BOSS has directed staff to screen participants for signs of fever or respiratory illness and to refer them to services immediately if symptoms are verified.
- BOSS has advised staff to follow the CDC best practices for preventing the spread of the virus including the recommendations to wash hands often, sanitize high-touch surfaces at least four times a day, establish social distancing, and to wear protective gear when necessary and available.
- BOSS has suspended large gatherings such as fundraising and community events, groups, and meetings and will utilize teleconferencing until further notice.
- All BOSS sites have informational signage and materials to share with participants and families.
- BOSS screens participants for symptoms; isolates symptomatic persons from the general population; provides care for symptomatic persons; contacts health providers for testing or treatment; provides shelter and program sanitation services; plans for higher shelter usage.
- BOSS created a communication plan for distributing timely and accurate information during the outbreak; identified and addressed potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to staff and clients.
- BOSS monitors guidance and resources, in consultation with community leaders, local public health departments, other community or faith-based organizations about places to refer clients.
- BOSS developed alternative small-group programming/activities with requisite social distancing.
Administrative steps taken:
- BOSS reviews and updates HR policies to accommodate necessary sick leave and remote work when possible, and analyzes potential long-term financial and service impacts on our participants, staff, and programs.
- BOSS developed plans for increased absenteeism caused by employee illness or illness in their families that requires them to stay home (e.g. extending hours, cross-training current employees, or hiring temporary employees) in accord with regulatory and compliance requirements of policies resulting from COVID-19: sick leave, benefits, recruitment of new staff-temporary or permanent, internal health & safety guidelines, providing education for staff and residents.
On behalf of the BOSS Board of Directors, participants and stakeholders I am committed to maintaining the financial health of the agency with a clear eyed view of strategies within the political economy while identifying opportunities aligned with the BOSS mission.
In closing, I offer heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to all of our supporters, especially during this devastating pandemic. Be safe, be well and we will get through this together!
All the best,
Special COVID-19 Requests
To support BOSS, a financial donation ensures we can continue delivering quality services to the most vulnerable our community. Monetary contributions allow us to quickly respond and give hope to the people we serve, especially during the ever changing complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your contributions will help with
- PPE & protective measures for all programs, including isolation space at shelters
- Emergency reentry support to Santa Rita inmates being released early: hotel vouchers, food gift cards, trac phones
- Renter protection for low income renters
- Development costs for bringing new housing online to get people off the street: BOSS has 5+ properties in development
We welcome at select BOSS facilities in-kind good donations of
- non-perishable food
- baby supplies
- hygiene products
- cleaning and sanitizing items
- paper products
- body suits
To donate goods, please contact Gwen Austin at email@example.com or 510.649.1930.
COVID-19 Relief Funders
Thank you to everyone who has donated to help us keep our programs running safely, allowing us provide services and supplies to those in need. Relief funders include:
(formerly known as food stamps)
(for income-qualified working families with children)
Food and Shopping Resources
Free/Low-Cost Food for the Elderly, Immunocompromised, Low-Income, and/or Health Workers
(Berkeleyside, April 16, 2020)
(Request or volunteer to get meals for neighbors in need)
Testing Sites & Facilities
Berkeley Testing for Vulnerable Populations
(April 7, 2020)
Hayward Public Testing Center
(March 23, 2020)
Oakland Testing for Direct Service Workers
(April 6, 2020)