Springfield cold weather shelters open doors, one offers shelter for couples and dogs

Brentwood Christian Church offering space for 10 guests
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 4:57 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2021 at 8:14 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Cold weather shelters are preparing to open up as cold air moves into the Ozarks this week. With CDC guidelines to follow, those shelters are unable to accept as many guests as they would in previous years.

Brentwood Christian Church is just one of the many churches opening their doors to house those without a warm place to sleep. They are offering a unique opportunity, a place of rest for couples and dogs.

Karen Mizell, the coordinator for the East Sunshine Men’s shelter, said, “Every year the number desiring shelter has been way up high.”

The East Sunshine Men’s shelter has been in operation for 11 years. For this year, only 15-20 guests can spend the night. Their capacity increased to more than 100 last year.

With the pandemic and the need for social distancing, capacity is more limited. The need has been growing.

“This year, we have a capacity of 50 men, last year we could have one hundred,” Mizell said.

While many churches have offered overflow spaces, none of them allow couples to spend the night. Men and women are split up between shelters.

Brentwood Christian Church is offering couples or singles to spend the night at their shelter. If you have a dog, you’re welcome to bring them as well.

Andrew Lear, who is a volunteer for Brentwood Christian Church, said, “We’re offering an opportunity for folks who have pets to spend the night safe and warm and not be separated for the night.”

Lear said dogs are a big reason why those in the unsheltered community will not sleep in the shelters overnight. He hopes Brentwood Christian Church will help fill that gap.

Capacity is limited to 10 guests. City Utilities offers bus rides to and from the warming shelters around Springfield.

Joel Alexander, with Springfield City Utilities, said, “We’re very happy to help the people that need to utilize the shelters get there to have a warm space to stay overnight. We will provide the transportation to that. The next morning, there are other options for people who need to get to other locations to depart that warming shelter. We’re very happy to help our community.”

The buses meet at the Veterans Coming Home Center on N. Jefferson.

“The dogs cannot ride on the bus, so that’s another challenge. We have volunteers who bring the dogs, so they don’t have to walk all the way here,” Lear said.

Food is offered for guests, as well as hot drinks. There is also food and water available for dogs. Any dogs must be crated while in the shelter.

“Various folks have donated blankets. We’ve got covers for the air mattresses, scarves, gloves, hats,” Lear said. “It is imperative that we find these types of places where we can shelter as many people as needed.”

You have to pre-register in order to spend the night. You can register for the Brentwood Christian Church shelter, or other cold shelters around Springfield, at the Veterans Coming Home Center. Brentwood Christian Church is located at 1900 E Barataria St.

Veterans Coming Home Center is located at 806 N. Jefferson Ave. Grace United Methodist Church is within walking distance of Veterans Coming Home Center. Buses will be available to take guests to the other shelters around Springfield.

Pastor Rhonda from Grace United Methodist Church, the women’s shelter, said the church will open during the upcoming extreme cold nights. Grace United is Located at 600 S. Jefferson Ave. Doors open at 8:15 pm.

“The Springfield community has risen above and beyond this year in response to the call for volunteers to staff the shelters across the city,” Pastor Rhonda said, “Churches continue to open their doors as well to provide additional shelter beds. The city of Springfield is amazing.”

More on Veterans Coming Home Center and shelter information can be found HERE

For volunteer opportunities at the shelters can be found HERE

Women’s Cold Shelter- Grace United Methodist Church

Men’s Cold Shelter - East Sunshine Church of Christ

Overflow Shelters:

First Unitarian University Church

Hope Church

Salvation Army-Harbor House

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