Springfield cold weather shelters in need of volunteers
Cold weather shelters across Springfield are opened their doors Wednesday for anyone needing a warm place to stay.
The shelters are filling up fast and in order to stay open they have to have volunteers. This year, coordinators said both the men's and women's shelters are struggling to find enough of them.
"Overnight hours, those shifts are the most difficult for us because we can only have men stay overnight," said Deron Smith.
Smith is the lead preaching minister at the East Sunshine Church of Christ. During the winter he also serves as a cold weather shelter volunteer.
"Tonight's my night," he said. "Wednesday night I'll be here from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m."
Smith said the church has a lot of volunteers, just not late at night.
"We have about 8 to10 volunteers in the beginning of the evening as we get the food set up, get the coffee made, the cots put out [and] the sheets and pillow cases." he said. "Then, [we have] the check in process and there are several of us men here to receive them [and] welcome them."
When it comes time for the men to arrive, Smith said the the need for help skyrockets.
"We especially need volunteers for the overnight hours," he said.
The church only allows men to volunteer during that time. Smith said they try to work out shifts that will work with anyone's schedule.
"[There are shifts] staying from either 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., 8p.m. to 2 a.m.,2 a.m. to 8 a.m., we have three different shifts and ways to kind of work with people if they need some help with that."
He said the need for volunteers has spiked because the number of men seeking shelter this year has gone up this year.
"I feel confident tonight and tomorrow night with the temperatures reaching as low as they're projected that we'll have a full house," Smith said.
He said he has expected a full house every night.
"We've been maxed out," Smith said. "100 is our max and we've been maxed out most nights. Sometimes we might have a low number and that low number might be mid 80s and that used to be the high number."
Any women wanting to help out can volunteer in the mornings starting at 6:30 a.m., that's when the church starts serving the men breakfast and works on getting things cleaned up.
The women's shelter is located downtown at Grace United Methodist Church. Volunteers can call either church to help volunteer.
The Salvation Army has also set up an overflow shelter in their Harbor House to give men another option if the church is already full.