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A Closed Open House

May 3rd, 2020 by dk

Many celebratory events, large and small, have been canceled due to COVID-19. Major fundraisers, sporting events, concerts, and awards banquets cannot take place. It begs the question, “Can we learn to celebrate on the smaller scales that will keep us safe?”

John Krasinski and Lin-Manuel Miranda created a Zoom version of “Hamilton” for a girl who had planned to see the touring show in her city to celebrate her ninth birthday. (Look it up on Youtube.) Musicians ask for lyric phrases on Facebook, and then improvise around them that evening. Neighbors are bringing lawn chairs to the edge of their driveway to enjoy evening breezes with neighbors who are doing the same.

One sort of celebration that isn’t allowed right now is an Open House. Nightingale Hosted Shelters had to cancel theirs last weekend. Since they hosted their neighbors for an annual holiday singalong in south Eugene, things have been quite busy for this village of Conestoga Hut pre-homes next to Good Samaritan Society on Hilyard Street.

  • The leaders at Good Samaritan gave them a grant to finish insulating their warming shelter. Having a warm, dry gathering place has made a world of difference.
  • Warming and cooling are both getting easier. A new BBQ was purchased. A propane heater warms water during freezes. A business donated propane. A local restaurant donated a large cooler. Reddy Ice donates cooler ice.
  • Two restaurants are bringing enough food to feed all 16 residents once a week. Half a dozen other restaurants have been asked to do the same. The Burrito Brigade continues to drop off food every weekend.
  • Residents have stepped up their sanitation routines. They added a third portable toilet that is reserved only for guests who are ill. They are renting a mobile hand-washing station and exploring ways to purchase one.
  • Other health precautions have been added. One neighbor made masks for every resident, with a few to spare. Supporters bought no-touch thermometers for the residents and the managers to use.

Camp Managers Nathan Showers and Tracy Joscelyn would have much rather given you this update in person, with some hot chocolate and maybe a surprise musical guest. Any on-site celebration will have to wait, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be invited to share their gratitude. We can celebrate without being all together. We have to.

Musicians have talked about doing a summertime version of their winter singalong. Those plans are currently on hold, or they may have to be done with Zoom or Facebook. The camp has a Facebook page that gets updated frequently, as well as a newsletter that can be sent to those who want to stay connected.

Most residents who had jobs were working in restaurants. Those jobs have disappeared for the time being. The governing board has had a busy winter. There’s one last bit of good news for this group of pre-housing neighbors. Two residents have recently moved into permanent housing. Celebrate with them.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at Donations to Nightingale Hosted Shelters can be sent to PO Box 70766, Springfield, OR  97475 or go to

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