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Guiding Light asking for encouragement for clients during pandemic

The organization has taken a number of steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus but some measures may lead to feelings of isolation.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — For more than 90 years leaders from Guiding Light have prided themselves on getting men off the street and back to work. But at a time when health officials are emphasizing social distancing, the organization is asking men in the "Back to Work" program not to go to work unless they have to.

The mission is also paying for Uber rides so that clients who do have to keep working don't have to take public transportation.

These are just a few of the many measures Guiding Light has taken to stop the spread of coronavirus in West Michigan.

They've also stopped taking new clients for the time being and non-direct staff members have moved out of the physical facilities. The organization is also moving many of their services online.

"A lot of their classes, their therapy classes, their group therapy are all being done via Zoom or video including spritual direction and their individual therapy. All of that is being done via video chat," said development director Starla McDermott.

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Even though many clients are out of work, they're still expected to stick to their routines.

"They're all up at 6 o'clock in the morning. Breakfast is at 7. They still have to get up and make their beds. They're still doing their own laundry," McDermott said. "We're still keeping them busy right now."

Still, as many people staying home during the pandemic have found out, being alone for so long can lead to feelings of isolation. The public can help make sure Guiding Light's clients stay healthy in that regard.

"When it comes to recovery, men are used to isolation and we don't want them to feel isolated so if anyone wants to go to our Facebook page and share messages of encouragement, we'll share those with the guys and keep their spirits up," McDemott said.

You can also help with a financial donation on Guiding Light's website. Those will go to pay for food, shelter, and added costs that go along with having staff members work remotely.

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