As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and cases decline in Fort Bend County, Catholic Charities’ Mamie George Community Center (MGCC) in Richmond will soon open the door to safely invite clients back inside the facility.
“We’re going to be very intentional in how we re-open to ensure that clients, volunteers, community members and staff can all interact safely,” said Gladys Brumfield-James, MGCC executive director.
Catholic Charities will continue to require that everyone in the facility wears a mask and maintains social distance in order to provide the highest level of protection.
MGCC will limit the number of clients inside as it opens on June 14. For example:
- The Creative Aging Program, which holds art classes, will allow no more than 12 clients and two volunteers per class.
- Patty’s Café, which served up to 125 nutritious hot meals each weekday before the pandemic, will allow 22 clients at a time, with registration required to prevent too many seniors from attending at the same time.
- The Fitness Center will accommodate up to six clients. The popular group exercise classes will begin in July; line dancing begins in August.
- The library area, where seniors gather to visit or use computers, will maintain strict social distancing protocols while still allowing clients to enjoy the company of their friends.
Before the pandemic, on a typical day, 150 seniors visited MGCC for a nutritious meal or activities. Even with the limitations, seniors are excited about the opportunity to return to see their friends.
“I am so happy to hear that the center is coming back,” said client Georgina Conill. “I have stayed home for too long. I missed everything about MGCC – the gym where I exercised, the nutritious food, the classes – I can’t wait!”
“Our clients are not shy to tell us that they’re ready to be back,” said Brumfield-James. “We’re glad we could help the community during the pandemic through phone calls and drive-through service, but I think we all have a new appreciation for being together in person after this last year.”
While some Catholic Charities programs in Fort Bend will begin making the transition toward “normal,” a few services will wait to revert to pre-pandemic strategies. For example, families who need financial assistance with rent, utilities or other expenses will be served virtually until mid-July.
MGCC will continue to use drive-through food distribution to help families struggling to provide sufficient food for their families. By July, volunteers will have loaded more than three million pounds of food into the back of vehicles. That’s six times as much food as the typical amount distributed annually to clients served inside the food pantry before the pandemic.
“The economic impact of the pandemic isn’t diminishing, even though the number of COVID-19 cases is going down,” said Shayne Baker, who manages Trini’s Market. “We actually have seen an increase recently in the number of families coming to the pantry for food assistance.”
Drive-through food distribution hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Wednesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., in addition to one Saturday each month from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. A schedule is available at CatholicCharities.org/CovidFoodDistribution.