Birmingham’s Brother Bryan Mission taking precautions during COVID-19 pandemic

Brother Bryan Mission in Downtown Birmingham sleeping area designated for quarantine if needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In any other situation, a shelter would be considered the safest place for a homeless person.

But during a pandemic, a lot of people living in close quarters is not a good scenario. However, Brother Bryan Mission in downtown Birmingham is taking precautions.

Brother Bryan Mission is not simply a shelter, but a program to help men looking to turn their lives around by overcoming addiction, connecting them with faith and equipping them with skills to get a job and live on their own. Most of these activities involve these men gathering at the mission.

Brother Bryan Mission is seriously taking to heart the health recommendations that have come down from such organizations as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as local authorities.

“We’re not allowing visitors on campus, so family, even to visit our men,” program director Brian Keen said. “We’re not allowing volunteers, so we’ve really settled into just the men in program and the staff that are allocated here.”

The men in the program normally attend classes and services in the chapel. Staff also makes sure that there are only two men per row, assuring social distancing.

“We’ve set up in our chapel services and our devotion, where we’re seating every other row,” Keen said.

Meal times around the mission have also changed.

“We’ve one to eating in shifts for our meal times, so we can keep that social distance,” Keen said.

Keen said that while the mission can’t eliminate the fact that many men will have to sleep in a room with 20 other people, they can ensure each person is 6 feet apart. Each dormitory in the mission is set up with its own entrances and exits.

The Brother Bryan Mission program has halted all applicant intake for about three weeks as the staff adjusts.

“We’ve carved out six beds that are allocated as a quarantine area, God forbid anyone gets the virus,” Keen said. “We’ll keep them stationary as possible so that it doesn’t put anybody in the community at risk.”

As pressures and tensions rise around the world, Keen said Brother Bryan Mission is working reassure members who may have some fears about the virus.

“We’ve gone through some biblical studies and helping them meditate and voice their concerns and give exposure to that and allow them to process that in community,” he said. “I think that’s really helped them come to grips with those fears.”


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