United Methodist Pastor and Micah Mission Center Executive Director Bro. David Banister had to make a tough decision this week and like many businesses or ministries in Hopkinsville, had to shut the doors.
The mission center, a missionary of the church that accepts donations to help feed people in need, had to put a temporary halt on operations as most other places have during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Banister said along with a shortage in donations dating back to December, as well as the well-being of the volunteers and others picking up a meal, it was best to shut things down for now.
“I feel a tremendous responsibility that I keep everybody safe,” Banister said. “I cannot afford to be partied to a situation where people could get the virus and possibly die from it. A lot of the people there are not well anyway. We have older folks that the virus seems to be affecting more than everybody else but we have a situation there where we have to be responsible — we’re looking out for our fellow citizens.
“I don’t like it because those people are hungry and they need food. But because of donations being so low since December and now during the virus are almost nonexistent — both monetary and canned goods or food — we’re just running out of food. We don’t have the ability to do what we did before. We hope we can build back up some during our closure.”
Banister added after seeing the larger groups of people gathering and some people not practicing social distancing, it felt like the decision needed to be made.
“After seeing it day after day, I just decided — along with what the church and the health department had told me and what the governor is saying — we’re just like everybody else,” Banister said. “We decided to close it down for a short time. We’re going to look at every couple of weeks and see where we are. As soon as we feel like it’s safe and we can open back up, then we will do that. I believe it’s going to get worse before it gets better. ... We’re just going do the best we can.”
Banister doesn’t know when the mission center will return to its operations, but said he believes once the time does come, it all be a full go moving forward.
“When we start back, we’ll probably start back with hot meals out the back like we did,” Banister said. “I have volunteers I have to think about too. ... When we reopen, we’ll probably reopen in full force I suspect.”
While the normal day-to-day operation is at a standstill, Banister said he will still contribute to Feeding America, and has made some adjustments amid the outbreak to best accommodate its customers.
“Once a month, we do Feeding America commodities for seniors and we are continuing to do that,” Banister said. “That’s one day a month and we’ve got it set up now where it’s drive-through. They don’t even get out of their car, they just drive up and we give them the food they need. ... We’re going to continue that for as long as necessary.”