Zimmon ’12 supports homeless services through pandemic

Emily Zimmon ’12 is the support services director at Willis Dady Homeless Services where COVID-19 is creating scary realities.

This is part of a series of stories on Cornellians responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our Homeless Prevention team is working to support individuals and families who are fearful of losing their housing due to job loss,” Zimmon said. “Street Outreach is checking in on clients regularly to make sure no one has symptoms and that all of our clients are aware of the precautions needed to stay safe, while also providing basic necessities such as water, which clients no longer have regular access to after public buildings closed their doors. All of our staff members have come together to support each other as we charge forward through this difficult time.”

Portrait of Emily ZimmonWillis Dady’s emergency shelter and overflow shelter are currently open 24/7 to provide a safe environment for their clients. 

“Our shelters are currently full, and we are working with households who fear that they may become homeless once the state moratorium is lifted on evictions and utility bills,” Zimmon said.

Zimmon says they are working to follow social distancing guidelines, but it’s extremely tough as the Willis Dady staff members work to help families. They’re also following CDC guidelines to have shelter cots at least three feet apart and arranging the cots so people sleep head-to-toe. In addition, Zimmon and her team are working with barriers because there’s no public transportation, which their clients depend on. 

This Cornell graduate says there are a lot of ways people can help.

“Willis Dady is a small, local nonprofit, and any assistance makes the biggest difference,” Zimmon said. “We have individuals and groups donating meals daily, people supporting us financially or donating items we are in need of, and others who are at low risk of COVID-19 are stepping up and supporting us by volunteering at our shelter. Running our shelters 24/7 has hit our budget hard and any assistance we receive in any way allows our staff to better support our clients.”

Zimmon graduated from Cornell in 2012 with a degree in Latin American studies. She had a double minor in Spanish and religion. She has worked at Willis Dady since December of 2015.

How are you responding to the COVID-19 pandemic? Contact us to share your story, or alert us to other Cornellian’s responses.