We’re doing everything we can to serve our guests well. Opening as a Warming Center when temperatures get cold, our volunteer resources are stretched to the max. But we know it’s the right thing to do. If we truly love our neighbors, those without heat, those living on the streets, and those otherwise considered “disposable” need a warm place on cold nights. It’s difficult for us, but imagine what it’s like for those we call our friends.
Our first try at being the Warming Center for Anderson was way back in January 2022. Our approach was to have paid staff stay up to manage the guests. This season, we rely on volunteer support. Someone from the Executive Team will always be on-site to open up, but beyond that, our desire is to have volunteers stay up with our guests through the night to ensure the safety and security of all who are taking advantage of a nice warm place to be.
One lesson learned (so far) is that we need a solid team of volunteers to arrive 30 minutes before opening time through the first few hours. Our opening time is dictated by weather, so it varies, but we expect it to be between 8:00 pm and midnight. For an 8 pm opening, we need at least four volunteers to help prepare the cots, coffee, bathrooms, etc. With four people, this is easy! And the chaotic start is much more manageable. After we get the first few batches of guests in their cots, it seems to settle down into a quiet evening of hanging out with those that want to stay away all night!
Another lesson includes assigning people to specific cots. This is a learning experience, to say the least. Some of our guests have serious mental health issues that can cause a lot of disruption. Having one person like this in Men’s Room B (13 cots) caused a lot of issues on the coldest night this past week. We learned painfully and improved.
There are lots of other considerations we’ll continue to refine. We’re incredibly blessed by our county to have this space and grateful for our first responders when we call for support. We’ll get better!
In case you’re wondering, most of those we serve are very grateful for the space. The first full night of operation included a couple from the “alphabet streets” that have no heat in their house. They we very happy to have a warm place to rest! And most of the time, our folks are cooperative. But I don’t know what to do about snoring!! Oh my goodness!!
Please consider joining us for a night or two. Pick a time to help us open or come early (6 am) to help us get started on the backend. You will most definitely be blessing someone!!
Grace and peace to all.