COVID – 19 has changed the way we used to do things

Sisters Janice Thome and Roserita Weber, OP
Dominican Sisters of Peace Garden City, Kansas USA

Dominican Sisters of Peace Sister Roserita Weber and Sister Janice Thome serve the economic poor in the Dominican Sisters Ministry of Presence in Garden City, Kansas.  This is a direct ministry with the person or family no matter who they are or why they are poor. 

We respond to the families referred to us by other persons families and agencies.  We start with a simple presence with the  family, letting the persons determine what needs they wish to address, and allowing them to direct the assistance in as far as they are able  We act as liaisons between those in need and the already existing resources  This linkage gives us a foundation for advocacy on behalf of the marginalized.  We are to create resources where none exist.

This means that we most often go to their home and provide transportation as needed for them to the agencies/medical appointments.  The COVID-19 19 has changed the way in which we do both.

For me it feels so very plastic to have both the person and me using masks that prevent seeing the facial expressions.  Also standing on the porch or in the yard seems very awkward.  When I drive a person to Wichita for appointments and wear a mask for 8-10 hours a day, I am a bit congested and have pressure marks on each cheek.

Sister Roserita cannot have group driving instruction classes because of lack of social distancing.  She is only doing individual instruction so cannot serve as many persons.  She has to be very careful when practicing driving with them in their vehicles.

Many of the persons we serve work at necessary jobs so have continued to have an income, such as it is.  However, some have had issues.  One example is that of Jesse working in construction.  The owner of the vehicle that he and 4 others rode in quit taking them for 3 wks. in July because one of the men got COVID-19.  The business owner wanted to make sure that the rest were not going to get it.  Sister Roserita helped Jesse’s family with some of the money from the Catholic Extension Sisters on the Front Lines Grant. We also helped them with gas to get to Wichita for an appointment in August.

Lately we have been getting more calls for help to pay utility bills because the money from the government has now run out and the families have used all their resources.

For me, the memory will be the emotional stress of not being able to respond spontaneously like giving a hug to the lady whose brother was dying from COVID-19 in TX when she was unable to be with him.  I will be grateful for the ability to sit down with the person asking for help and listen to them without the pressure because it is getting too cold or hot or windy outside.

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