Central Florida retreat center to house quarantined first responders

Posted Mar 25, 2020

[Episcopal News Service] Canterbury Retreat & Conference Center has worked out a plan with Seminole County Emergency Management (SCEM) to house first responders under quarantined orders because of exposure to the coronavirus.

“The head of SCEM contacted me about housing first responders when the initial location decided not to house them,” said Director Chalmers Morse, who added that he consulted with board members Doug Dill and David Mead. All three quickly agreed.

Canterbury, located in Oviedo, Florida, on 48 acres, has 45 guest rooms and a walking path around Lake Gem.

However, Canterbury will not feed the first responders. “The food will be brought in by SCEM personnel,” Morse said, who added, “Our staff prepared a number of rooms in advance to be used as needed. SCEM has been issued room keys, and when the rooms are used, those being quarantined will be escorted directly to their rooms by SCEM personnel via a designated path. SCEM will handle all services from registration to cleaning of the rooms.”

After the COVID-19 crisis is over, SCEM will be responsible for using special high-tech equipment to sterilize the rooms.

Morse did not hesitate to assist the SCEM and first responders. It seemed like a no-brainer, he said.

“Canterbury offers hospitality in a sacred space where people can come to know and grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord,” Morse said. “It is our duty to help those in need, especially our first responders who put their lives on the line every day serving others. How can we do anything less?”

The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida, in a statement to clergy on March 18 said, “We have to figure out ways to take care of each other so that we can continue to walk through this together. A part of what this is showing us is that we cannot operate as autonomous individuals. We really do have to find new and deeper ways to work together.”