September 25, 2023

3 Oaks & WARM Adapt to Pandemic

In March, when WARM made the decision to forego the 2020-2021 sheltering season, Three Oaks Center knew it was a correct if difficult decision.

WARM has been an effective program for many years, and its results have provided support for vulnerable community members throughout the cold winter months. Three Oaks recognized the need to conduct immediate planning to stand up a program that would accommodate those who would ordinarily use the services of WARM while incorporating every reasonable best practice to help both the staff and program participants avoid infection by the coronavirus.

Planning for protecting community citizens during the winter months actually began in the spring and summer, when Three Oaks worked with many WARM volunteers in executing the successful Passive Park initiative. During this time, Three Oaks established methods for keeping the number of shelter residents to a minimum by using an intensive case management process. With this process, we worked with homeless individuals daily, rapidly aligning required services to keep every individual and family housed while assembling resources to find permanent housing solutions.

An array of partners –  including WARM, DSS, Three Oaks Center, the St. Mary’s County Health Department, St. Mary’s Caring, and others – immediately saw the effectiveness of this new approach and recognized the need to implement it to allow achievement of two goals. Our community could meet the needs of the homeless in the next two winter seasons while also minimizing the number of workers (volunteer and paid) that would have to be in contact and at risk of being infected. This approach enables WARM to stand down during the pandemic without placing our homeless at undue risk.

Leveraging our spring and summer experience and using consultation with the St. Mary’s County Health Officer Dr. Meena Brewster, Three Oaks has developed and is  ready to implement a winter plan that provides 15  shelter beds in three townhouses and a reserve of financial resources for purchasing hotel units when necessary due to expected overflow periods. The program will incorporate stringent health practices including temperature checks, frequent testing, masks, social distancing, specialized cleaning, and the availability of a quarantine operated in a Three Oaks Center facility if a participant needs to be isolated and medically treated due to testing positive for COVID19.

Three Oaks Center is prepared to undertake this important project in the short term while we look forward to the time when the WARM program will once again fully engage and provide the all- important service it has delivered in the past.

“We will continue to use our more expanded case management approach that taps the talents of the full spectrum of important partners who deliver thoughtful and competent care for our homeless,” said Lanny Lancaster, executive director of Three Oaks. “Thank you, WARM, for your long and dedicated service. Please stay safe and healthy throughout this regrettable pandemic and enjoy peaceful and pleasant holidays.”

WARM operated in close partnership with Three Oaks Center, which is taking the lead on locating the emergency funding needed for this winter. Three Oaks has remained fully operational throughout the pandemic. Three Oaks is assisting clients both by phone and in person.

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To learn more about Three Oaks Center, visit its Leader Member Page.


Emergency Services/ SOAR Program: 301-863-9535 Ext. 103

Supportive Housing/ Veterans Services :301-863-9535 Ext. 104

Administrative Office: 301-863-7361

Email: [email protected]

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