June 5, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

Those of you who have read previous letters, or anyone who’s ever tried to have a conversation with me, recognizes I have a hard time staying focused. Or, more honestly, I can focus like a laser beam until I’m distracted. While I’m a good writer, my narrative style isn’t quite a flow, more of a rabbit scampering across a desert with a hawk circling above. As you might guess, this scattershot voice has a hard time doing things like writing protocols and procedures. Oh, I can do that kind of writing—just as Van Gogh could paint a realistic still life—but the act requires a gun to be held at my head.

Duty is that gun.

As part of Hope’s reopening, we are seeking advice and input from a variety of public health and other governmental experts. In order to get guidance, though, you need to outline your intentions, then ask for suggestions on improving your outcomes. Hope is not just its staff or its board of directors—in fact, we want, in our best moments, to  be servants—Hope is you, our nation of members and supporters, so I want you to have a vision of what Hope is going to look like when we reopen.

Look like. What Hope will feel like is up to all of us.

Below are the semi-organized protocols and understandings that will be in place when, as soon as safely possible, Hope reopens. I know it’s going to be challenging, but recovery wasn’t easy either. As long as all of us treat this as a chance to learn, to bond and to support each other, we will make this work. Our goal needs to be to identify what’s working and encourage that and to figure out what’s not working and change that. We will make lots of mistakes, but we don’t have to make the same mistakes for than once. After all, there are plenty of mistakes, and we can continue to find new ones.

Please, please, please read over the lengthy material that follows. You and you and, especially, you can find holes and inconsistencies now that will save all of us future headaches. I truly believe in the wisdom of the crowd, particularly the crowd that comprises Hope Nation.

Together we will make things work. Really and for true.

You matter. I matter. We matter.




When You Walk In

You will be greeted at the door with respect, courtesy and a smile by a staff member. Before you can come into the center:

  1. You’ll be asked to don a mask and disinfect your hands using liquid cleanser located at the door.
  2. You’ll have your temperature taken with a touchless thermometer. If you have a fever, whatever the cause may be, you’ll be asked to come back when your temperature is back down.
  3. You’ll be asked a series of questions about your recent exposure to COVID-19, any coughing or body pains, etc. If you answer yes to any of these, it will be suggested you see a doctor, and you’ll be asked to come back when these symptoms are better.

This process will be friendly, upbeat and non-negotiable. We wear masks at Hope not for our own protection, but for the protection of those around us. Many of us have Hep C, HIV or any number of other conditions that affect our immune systems. We respect your individual rights—including the right not to wear a mask in the rest of your life—but entry to Hope will require masking. If this is unacceptable to you, we offer telephone, Zoom and text support, but the Hope building will be as safe a place as we can make it.

Each time any of us leave the building—whether for a smoke, fresh air or a trip to the store–we will need to go through this same process again.

When You’re in a Common Area

Seating arrangements at Hope have been altered to maintain social distancing. The front area has far fewer seats, but we’ve added seating up and down the hallways. We know this is going to take some getting used to, but the COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened our society’s ability to absorb and incorporate change with grace and dignity

  1. You’ll be asked to maintain at least a six-foot distance from others at all times
  2. You’ll be asked to keep your mask on
  3. You’ll not be allowed to eat or drink, since these activities require you to take your mask off.
  4. You’ll be asked to maintain proper distancing when passing in the hallways.

At least hourly, we’ll be giving a general disinfecting clean to all high-touch areas. We’ll ask all members and guests to give us a hand with this task.

When You’re in a Meeting

  1. If your group wants to provide support to more than the 7-10 people allowed in each room, you’ll be trained in the use of the Owl Pro (360-degree video and audio device), Zoom and any other necessary technology.
  2. Social distancing, masking and eating and drinking practices still apply
  3. Depending on the governance of your group, either the chair, facilitator or a volunteer will be asked to give a general disinfecting clean to the room.
  4. A Hope staff member will “float” throughout the building to make sure all practices are being followed.

“Sicker than Most”

I love “Sicker than Most.” You love “Sicker than Most.” We love “Sicker than Most.” Unfortunately, this extraordinarily popular open-mic/talent show will need to follow the social distancing requirements as any other group. Since the show has drawn more than 125 people to a show, and the front of the house can’t hold more than 10 people, we will work with the Sicker crew to create a hybrid, taking advantage of technology, other seating at Hope and general creativity. Sicker will prevail and prosper. Promise!

Capacities at Hope

Given the challenges of using space at Hope while maintaining prescribed social distancing, we’ve come up with the maximum capacity for each space at Hope. (NOTE: Right now, the State of New Hampshire allows a maximum of 10 people to gather in one space. If this requirement is lifted, the numbers for the front room, meeting room and meditation room be increased slightly.)

Maximum Capacity of Hope—58 people

Two at counter

10 in front room

Two people in kitchen

5 people in fishbowl

4 people Keith’s office

1 person in utility room

5 in family room

2 in Dave’s office

6 in conference room

4 in Yellow room

10 in meeting room

2 Karla’s office

10 in meditation room

4 in hallway

4 in back hallway

58 capacity

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