Cold weather shelters open for the changing season
Cold weather shelters have begun to open their doors as temperatures in the region dip below freezing. Last year, people were directed to go to a building at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds due to social distancing requirements. This year these smaller shelters, all at churches, are opening their doors again for those in need.
Shelters are in Everett at the United Church of Christ (2624 Rockefeller Ave.); in Monroe at New Hope Fellowship church (1012 W. Main St.); and in the city of Snohomish at the Snohomish Evangelical Free Church (210 Ave. B).
Shelters generally open overnight when the temperature drops below 34 degrees. Their doors are open to public entry for a limited window before shutting in for the night.
“I experienced homelessness,” said Roger Evans. “I really understand what it’s like to be homeless and not have a place to go at night.”
Evans is the lead director of the Snohomish and Monroe cold weather shelters that are managed by Volunteers of America Western Washington.
Aside from a roof and relief from the cold, shelters often provide food as well as a sense of safety and security.
“For two hours, we’re able to give them food and drinks,” Evans said. “We try to have coffee and hot chocolates, stuff to kind of warm them up. If we can just come in and show some love, show them that somebody cares enough about you to spend four hours here and watch you sleep and make sure you’re safe. I think it just opens up the door that opens up the eyes for both the client and the volunteers.”
As with any charitable effort, the cold weather shelters rely on volunteer support to be able to function.
“I love our volunteers,” said Lynsey Gagnon, the executive director for Community Resource Centers for Volunteers of America, Western Washington. “They see a need for helping our homeless neighbors, and they show up in many different forms. That can include monetary donations or actually volunteering. Every little bit counts.”
The economic effects of the pandemic forced a lot of people into homelessness who might not have otherwise been at risk. With so many individuals and families experiencing financial hardships many shelters are expecting to see increased numbers of clients this year.
“I think volunteering really helps to open up people’s eyes to their neighbors that are experiencing hardships,” said Gagnon. “A lot of folks that visited our shelters last year had jobs but, in many instances, they just couldn’t keep an apartment or couldn’t keep their house. Covid has been a real hardship. I think we’re going to see a lot more folks this year.”
Many shelters in the region are currently accepting clothing donations, but follow the guidelines provided by the shelters. As Evans put it, “Anything that you would need to get through the winter, they definitely need to get through the winter.”
Is the shelter open tonight?
• For the Snohomish and Monroe shelters: call 360-453-7622 or www.facebook.com/voawwskyvalley
• Countywide: www.tinyurl.com/SnoCoCold
• Or consider checking the Facebook page of your city.
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