Opinion Columns & Blogs

Help for the homeless

The group Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness has been honored to serve as the coordinator of the Warming Souls Winter Overflow Shelter for the past four years. We are extremely grateful to this community for its support over the life of this endeavor.

Churches, organizations and individuals donated meals, clothing, personal items and funds. Inter-Faith Ministries supplied staff and oversaw operations. Nine different churches volunteered the use of their facilities to house the shelter. Nonprofit organizations provided medical, legal, mental health and other services. Volunteers assisted the staff and visited with shelter guests.

We are humbled to have been a part of this amazing cooperative effort, which provided not only a safe place to sleep but services necessary for people to move out of homelessness. Over the past four winter seasons, 400 people have been connected to permanent housing simply because they stayed at the overflow shelter.

The shelter operated from Nov. 1 to March 31 again this past winter and served 470 individuals – 375 men and 95 women. On average, 74 people were housed per night. More than 2,700 volunteers were involved in serving meals, providing necessities, and offering caring hearts and listening ears.

The smaller women’s shelter was housed at Mosaic church for the entire five months, while the men’s shelter moved each month to a different church: St. Paul’s United Methodist, Grace United Methodist, First United Methodist, Holy Savior Catholic Church and Christian Faith Centre.

AECH now has completed our three-year commitment (plus one extra year) to coordinate and raise funds for the shelter. We are a volunteer group and never intended to become permanent service providers. However, the oversight committee of the Task Force to End Chronic Homelessness and many others in the community have recognized the need for continuation of emergency shelter while we work together on reducing homelessness by increasing permanent housing options.

We are blessed that community partner Inter-Faith Ministries has graciously stepped up to take on the responsibility for this worthy project. AECH has great confidence in the expertise of Inter-Faith and pledges to support its administration of the winter overflow shelter in any way possible, including assistance with fundraising.

We thank all those who have supported the shelter with their time and resources over the past four years, and we encourage and pray for the community’s continuing support as Inter-Faith takes on the role of coordinator, fundraiser and administrator.