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Volunteers needed for warming centers

Posted at 2:41 AM, Dec 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-27 05:42:29-05

A local warming shelter closed its doors Christmas Eve because it didn’t have enough volunteers.
Now they are asking for your help.

Staff members at the Five Cities Homeless Coalition said they tracked the weather Christmas Eve, but were unable to provide dry shelter that night.

They are now asking people to help out for the busy months ahead.

“While we were sad that we weren’t able to open that night, I want to be able to be open any other night the rest of the winter, said Janna Nichols, executive director at the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition. “That’s where we need the community’s help.”

Warming centers like the one in Grover Beach run by the coalition provide a dry place for the homeless to sleep when it rains or gets too cold.

Nichols said they open the center when there is a 50 percent chance of rain or if temperatures are expected to be 40 degrees or below.

The organization aims to provide long-term housing, but the Nichols said that goal can’t be reached if they don’t have enough help.

“It’s important to keep people warm and safe, but it’s that opportunity to start the engagement process to figure out how it is we can actually get them back into housing,” added Nichols.

Even though they were unable to provide shelter in Grover Beach, they didn’t leave people empty-handed Christmas Eve.

The 5 Cities Homeless Coalition partnered with CAPSLO to bus people to 40 Prado that night.

“We weren’t sure we were able to do that until the last minute,” said Grace McIntosh, CAPSLO deputy director. “As long as we are able to accommodate you know our other shelters, we are happy to do that, but it was tough.”

McIntosh said they’re also asking for more hands on deck.

“Our largest pool of volunteers is Cal Poly, but of course in this case they are all gone,” McIntosh said. “So we really rely on our community volunteers.”

Both directors expect January and other winter months to be busy.

“We would ask people to check-in, serve a meal and in some cases we would have volunteers preparing the meal,” said Nichols.

They also need people to help shop for groceries and sort donation items.

Click here to learn more about 5 Cities Homeless Coalition’s volunteer program.

Click here to learn more about CAPSLO’s volunteer program.