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Warming Place seeks volunteers

The city of The Dalles is shown under snow in 2004. Volunteers are currently needed to man the warming shelter, which opens on frigid nights.

Chronicle file photo
The city of The Dalles is shown under snow in 2004. Volunteers are currently needed to man the warming shelter, which opens on frigid nights.

The Warming Place opens Nov. 19, and volunteers are needed to run the shelter, which opens on the coldest nights to give the homeless a respite from winter weather.

Last year the shelter was open for a record 94 nights, said Georiga Giacobbe, vice chair of the Warming Place committee. The shelter is located at the St. Vincent de Paul building at 315 W. Third St.

“I know in my mind, for this year, I never want to see a case of frostbite again,” Giacobbe said. Last year, one person lost all his fingers, and there were other more minor cases of it as well.

This is the Warming Place’s eighth season, and the need for volunteers has always been pressing.

A recent open house was fruitful, she said. “We had some new volunteers come in, we had some former volunteers come back and check in and we were able to sign up another night coordinator that day.”

If people don’t want to spend the night at the shelter, they can serve as a night coordinator.

A coordinator is assigned to each night of the week, and it is their responsibility to line up volunteers if the call comes in in the morning that the shelter will be open that evening.

“People need to be aware that it takes planning to do this and it doesn’t just happen overnight,” she said.

The shelter is open if the temperature is 30 or below, including wind chill, or if it is 35 and precipitating.

“A lot of volunteers say it’s a rewarding experience because they do know that you are providing a safe warm environment for someone who really, really needs it. I’m always amazed at the stories of people that find themselves without shelter in the wintertime,” she said.

“The people that need this service are just people and they just need help at this particular time period.

“Now granted, there are some chronic homeless and I’m not sure what we can do for them but for three months or four months out of the year we can keep them from freezing.”

Those who do not want to volunteer can make donations of key supplies to keep people warm, such as socks, gloves, hats and handwarmers.

Those interested in volunteering can call Ed Elliott at 541-386-5857.

Her goal is to have at least 100 volunteers, which would reduce the workload for everyone involved.

When the shelter is open, it has two volunteers on per shift, which goes from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The shelter averaged 10 people per night last winter.


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