Your Story: Sheffield Place responds to COVID-19


The COVID-19 crisis has cast a dark shadow of uncertainty around the world and on the doorstep of Sheffield Place over the past few months. 

The mothers worry about their health, the health of their children, their ability to stay clean and sober amidst the anxiety, and their ability to earn a living.

The staff – while also under stress – work to assure clients that addiction and mental health recovery are possible and self-sufficiency can be achieved.  

In the face of the pandemic, Sheffield Place acted quickly to ensure a safe, therapeutic environment for clients and outlined safety precautions for staff.  

First, the agency continued mental health and addiction recovery services to provide the structure and security the clients need to maintain their mental health and remain in recovery.  Our full range of services includes therapy, case management, and life skills training. 

Children wear masks while gardening at Sheffield Place.

Groups for mothers and children take place 23 hours each week as compared with 30 hours before the pandemic – five hours each day Monday through Thursday and three hours on Friday.

The children’s program staff works with the children to help them stay caught up with school work.  A special “drop everything and read” time started in May. During this time, each child reads with a staff member for 30 minutes twice each week while the mothers also read a book of their choice.  

Second, because safety is the top priority, Sheffield Place moved rapidly to implement all recommended safety and health measures. 

These include:

  • Social distancing
  • Taking temperatures and wearing masks
  • Cleaning and disinfecting using enhanced protocols
  • Rotating half the staff to work remotely for a week at a time to limit exposure
  • Using HIPAA Compliant Zoom for case management and therapy sessions when the case manager or therapist is working remotely and for sessions with clients in the community-based aftercare program
  • Prohibiting visitors at the facility and accepting deliveries on the front porch
  • Suspending the on-site volunteer program
  • Limiting residential clients to one trip off campus every two weeks for grocery and pharmacy errands

Third, the agency worked to make sure the clients make the best use of their time and resources. Most of the clients lost the employment they had worked so hard to secure. Yet, with regular and enhanced unemployment and the tax refund payment, in addition to the earned income tax credit, many of the clients found themselves with more money than expected. 

Sheffield Place implemented additional budgeting sessions to ensure that the clients would use these resources to pay off bills, fines, evictions, save money, and emerge from the crisis in a stronger financial position. 

A weekly group has also focused intensively on job search skills in preparation for the reopening of the economy – resume and cover letter writing, interview skills, and workplace skills.  

The changes in procedures have benefitted clients and staff. 

Most important, no one has contracted Covid-19 as of this writing (May 28, 2020). Residential clients, quite naturally, became a bit restive after months of remaining on campus. No relapses have occurred and the continued structure provided a sense of normalcy and safety. 

Even after the crisis recedes, new innovations will continue, including Zoom sessions, the reading program, and the staff-initiated group that takes a 30-minute walk each day over lunch as a step in self-care.   

On the other hand, the absence of program volunteers and the caring and enthusiasm they bring has been keenly felt. Many volunteer groups have helped out by conducting drives for immediate needs, sewing masks, and purchasing lunches and dinners for delivery to the facility for the families.  Sheffield Place looks forward to restoring the on-site volunteer program as soon as circumstances allow, but no sooner than July 1 at the earliest. 

Sheffield Place is grateful for active and compassionate response to the crisis from the funding community. The many expressions of support from the community have touched the hearts and fed the bodies and souls of the families. They know that they are not alone and that people in the community care about them and are cheering for their success. 

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Editor’s note: This post is part of a blog series that shares the impact of the pandemic on our grantees and community partners. If you would like to share your story, please find out more here.

Read how these community partners have responded to the pandemic: