Many people in the North Georgia community are choosing to shelter-in-place, self-quarantine, or at least maintain social distance. However, for the unsheltered, or homeless, transient, community, asking for or even getting help when feeling sick can be difficult.
That's why volunteers came up with Project Green Light, and spent Thursday morning giving out laminated cards, the size of a standard sheet of paper, with one side red and the other side green. People are encouraged to place the cards at their shelter, whether it is their car, a tent, or some other construction.
"Through the help of the (Hall County) school system, we've had a number of laminated cards made - red on one side and green on the other," said Mike Fisher, Ninth District Opportunity Housing Director. "So the idea is, we're taking these to the encampments were the people are housed, where they have their tents and places, and we're also visiting a number of shelters... if they are fine, if everything is cool, especially during the time of this pandemic to post the green side out. The green side means everything is good, everything is fine, what have you. However, if they feel like they're really struggling with their health, if they're in a desperate situation, they need immediate attention, they need an ambulance, they need to go to the hospital, we ask them to put it the red side out. That way, whoever happens by, when we make our regular rounds as outreach or city officials, employees, police, first responders, whoever it may be, when they see the red, that we all are on the same page to get help to these people."
Fisher and other volunteers handed out the cards and instructions to people having lunch at The Way, visitors at Good News at Noon, groups who were living in their cars that had parked at the shelters, and three encampments on the west side of Gainesville Thursday morning.
"The benefit I see from this system is more for our daily guests and visit us, whether it's a shower or clothes or food, because we do see a lot of people living out of their vehicles, or walk here from an encampment," said Ken Gossage, Director of Good News At Noon. "So it's just an opportunity to give them some more information, some more tools they can use that are helpful in this time of pandemic."
Volunteers handed out over 30 cards Thursday to men and women in the unsheltered community.
Fisher said it was unlikely for an average citizen to see a red or green card, but if they do, they can help by contacting the non-emergency line for Hall County or Gainesville city authorities and leaving the person alone. Gossage said they have been given a special number to call if anyone turns up at their shelter asking for help with a red card. "We're also asking any of our guests that are just not feeling well to let our receptionist know and we'll bring a boxed lunch in our out to them, rather than having them come into the dining hall.
Fisher said if the project goes as planned, they'll try to continue using the color-coded cards to help unsheltered members of the community.