Homeless health care center launches campaign to raise money for 'isolation backpacks' | KOB 4

Homeless health care center launches campaign to raise money for 'isolation backpacks'

Casey Torres
Updated: December 26, 2020 10:24 PM
Created: December 26, 2020 09:04 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless (AHCH) is trying to raise $250,000 for “isolation backpacks” during its First Day of Winter campaign.

The homeless population in Albuquerque are at a constant battle with the elements, with one of the harshest ones being winter—but now the pandemic is kicking their survival mode up a notch.

"We thought about it really well. How could we help folks self-isolate or self-quarantine if they were in the streets?” said Kevin Santry, the Harm Reduction Outreach Coordinator for AHCH.

The AHCH went straight to the homeless for an answer. The solution they suggested was “isolation backpacks”.

“We haven’t done isolation backpacks historically. It’s a response to the COVID pandemic,” said Anita Cordova, the Chief Advancement Officer for AHCH.

Inside each pack are essential items like tarp, gloves, hand warmers, first aid kits, body wipes and anything else to help set up camp for quarantining. 

“One of the major reasons was folks in the homeless community have just that—community. There are places where they stay on the streets where they feel safe and they feel protected,” said Santry. “And they want to stay in those places. They don't want to move around. And familiarity is a big thing."

On top of that, shelters could end up shutting down if there's an outbreak, which has happened before and blocks newcomers from coming in.

“Literally forced to stay in place,” said Cordova. “These isolation backpacks clearly became essential items to our response to the health related causes and experiences of homelessness.”

Each backpack costs about $50.

To make sure more than 2,000 people receive a backpack, the health care organization is hoping to reach their $250,000 goal by Dec. 31.

They are currently $40,000 away from reaching their goal.

If you would like to donate, you can call (505) 766-5197 or visit the AHCH website. Checks can also be made out to the organization with the P.O. box # 25445.

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