Helping those in need.

COVID19 Update

For the health and safety of our clients and staff during this pandemic

our Samaritan Ministries will be temporarily closed.  

Samaritan Ministries Update


Temporarily Closed

Our Pantry is Empty,
Our Hearts Are Full

Closing our Food Pantry and Social Service Desk was a difficult but essential measure to take in light of COVID-19. However, protection for our at-risk volunteers coupled with our inability to purchase food items in bulk made the decision obvious.


Despite the suspension of face-to-face services, we have still found ways to continue to minister in our community.


  • Session approved a proposal to donate money we would have been spending on the Food Pantry and Social Services Desk to Helping Hands. Our donation has enabled them to better serve their clients. Our funds helped feed the extra shelter residents being housed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They were used to purchase iPads that enable residents to access tele-health services. To date these funds were used to help 12 people move into permanent supportive housing.

  • We provided boxes of toilet paper to Helping Hands and Fifth Street Renaissance.

  • We delivered a carload of heart healthy canned goods and toilet paper to Senior Services of Central Illinois to be distributed to homebound seniors.

  • We filled an SUV with the remaining canned fruits and vegetables from the pantry and a couple boxes of toilet paper that were distributed to residents of Fifth Street Renaissance housing.


Thank you to all who have given time, talents and money to Samaritan Ministries. We look forward to the day we can safely resume these services. Until then, we will continue to look for other opportunities to minister to our community.

From Fifth Street Renaissance/SARA Center

"First Presbyterian Church, what an amazing group of people to give us all the supplies from their food pantry so that we can provide for all the households served by Fifth Street Renaissance during this pandemic. It is this kind of collaboration and caring that assures me we are all in this together. Thank you so much for the blessing."



From Senior Services of Central Illinois


Dear First Presbyterian Church,


Thank you for your generous

donation of food and paper



Thank you for caring about

our seniors in need.


Thank you for caring and



Thank you,

Senior Services of Central Illinois



‘Virtual Visits’ Ensure No Lapse

in Health Care for Homeless

By Brenden Moore

The State Journal-Register, Posted Apr 4, 2020 

Chad Newquist was in the hospital recovering from emergency gallbladder surgery when the first cases of coronavirus started to trickle in. It was his second surgery in a matter of months. So for Newquist, 39, a client at Helping Hands of Springfield, access to health care services was crucial.


He and other clients used to receive those services in the shelter from medical professionals at Central Counties Health Centers three times a week. But with “shelter in place” restrictions in effect to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, those visits have ceased.


However, with the donation of four iPads by First Presbyterian Church, clients at Helping Hands and the Salvation Army’s Winter Warming Center will retain access to CCHC’s health care services through tele-health “virtual visits.”


“I got released from the hospital and came back here and that’s when we started doing the tele-health,” Newquist said. “And it has worked out. It’s been fairly easy.”


“Now it’d be nice if there was someone around and they could do hands-on (stuff) like temperature tests, blood pressure tests,” he continued. “But other than that being able to talk to them has been fairly simple and easygoing.”


Several clients in the shelter have taken advantage of the service to ensure there is no lapse in mental or primary care services. Basically, the client signs in, click on the doctor they are going to see and then they go into a virtual waiting room. The doctor pops up when ready.


“It works really well for the clients because they’re real comfortable with the doctors,” said Ronetta Hamilton, director of housing and navigation for Helping Hands. “So they’re able to see the same exact doctor that they were seeing before. So they’re still able to get refills on whatever medications they were on, and the doctors are already familiar with the clients and their medication. So it works out really well for us.”


At least 10 clients have utilized the service per day between the two shelters, according to Helping Hands executive director Erica Smith.


Smith said the organization had never really considered the concept before this, but that it will definitely be incorporated into their plans even after the pandemic subsides and “shelter in place” orders are lifted.


“It’s something I don’t think that was on our radar before,” Smith said. “But as we’ve realized how much the clients really do enjoy it, I think we definitely will use it. I think it’s also an opportunity for us to offer more evening services to clients, when you know, it might be harder for places to actually come in or we don’t have the space for them to come in.”


Beyond health services, Smith said Helping Hands will consider using the iPads to allow clients to establish connections and reach out to support systems. This could be as simple as allowing a client to use Facetime to reestablish connections with out-of-state family.


For clients like Newquist, the service has been a hit.


“If my phone service is capable of using it, then I’ll probably end up doing it on my own even when I’m out of here as often as possible,” Newquist said.




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Springfield, IL 62701

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FPCNEWS to 22828
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