Emergency cold weather shelters to open early in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Edited News Release/KY3) - Crisis Cold Weather Shelters will be open Thursday, Oct. 29, to provide safe, warm places for our community’s homeless population to sleep during frigid temperatures. Community Partnership’s Ozarks Alliance to End Homelessness and many of its partners have worked to stand up these Crisis Cold Weather Shelters earlier than the planned Nov. 1 opening date because temperatures are expected to drop below freezing Thursday night.
“We have been working with our partners since last winter to recruit volunteers and find churches, businesses and other facilities willing to host Crisis Cold Weather Shelters,” said Michelle Garand, Vice President of Affordable Housing and Homeless Prevention. “We hoped to have shelters up and running by mid-October this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic threw a new barrier into the plan because shelters must practice physical distancing and many of the volunteers are hyper-vulnerable to the virus. To protect the health and safety of everyone – guests, volunteers and advocates – host sites are limited in capacity and are experiencing a shortage of volunteers.”
Thankfully, East Sunshine Church of Christ, which can shelter up to 50 men, and Grace United Methodist Church, which shelters women, have been able to overcome several barriers to be able to open Thursday. Additionally, the Ozarks Alliance to End Homelessness will stand up the Doling Elementary School building for one night as a men’s shelter. City Utilities of Springfield will provide transportation to the shelters from Veterans Coming Home, located at 806 N. Jefferson. Arrival times are critical for transportation.
Veterans Coming Home will remain open until 8 p.m. to serve as a warming center. Men sheltering at East Sunshine and at Doling must receive health screenings and utilize transportation from Veterans Coming Home to the Crisis Cold Weather Shelters. All 50 men sheltering at East Sunshine must be referred through One Door and must be at Veterans Coming Home no later than 7 p.m. Men sheltering at Doling must arrive by 6 p.m. Grace United Methodist Church will open to shelter women at 9 p.m. and provide health screenings onsite.
“We are thankful for the many partners who work tirelessly to serve our community. So many people work behind the scenes year-round to meet the health, hunger and hygiene needs of our homeless population. Opening Crisis Cold Weather Shelters ahead of schedule, even for one night, is just one example of the amazing collaboration that takes place in our community. It takes a lot of planning, funding and compassion for those in need, especially considering all the pieces that have to fall into place to open a crisis cold weather shelter. So to everyone who played a part in making this happen, thank you,” Garand said.
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