Friday, January 13, 2017

Warm Hearted Help Needed

NORTH SPRINGFIELD — Calling all night owls with a social conscience: the North Springfield Warming Shelter needs some volunteers.

Patty Miller, volunteer coordinator for the warming shelter, said Thursday the overnight 12:30-6:30 a.m. shift is in crucial need of volunteers. The first shift runs from 6:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

She said the warming shelter, in the basement of the North Springfield Baptist Church, has about 30 active volunteers.

“In all reality, we should have at least 70,” to cover all the shifts, she said.

Miller said that for both shifts each night, two people are on duty at all times. She said there has been some “shift-splitting,” with people working from 6:30-9:30 p.m., then going home.

Miller said men and women, even if they are married, are separated and sleep in separate rooms in the church. She said if there are families with children, the shelter contacts The Haven, a larger shelter in White River Junction.

There are warming shelters for the homeless in Barre, Bellows Falls, Brattleboro and North Springfield, as well as a couple in nearby Claremont, N.H., she said.

“We don’t take anyone under the age of 18,” she said.

The North Springfield shelter has had seven guests a night, filling almost all of the eight beds, she said.

Training is provided to the volunteers about shelter protocol and rules, according to Miller.
She said some volunteers who work the overnight shift take short naps, which is allowed, but many people sleep before coming to the shelter to work.

Other warming shelters are having the same problem with volunteers, said Louise Luring of Saxtons River, president of the board of the Greater Falls Warming Shelter.

“We are starting to meet our 10-per-night capacity. So far, we have hosted 13 different people for 228 bednights,” Luring said.

Shortage of volunteers is “always a problem, especially the 1-7 a.m. shift. We have a core group who do that, but we lost several of our former core group members this year due to illness,” she said.

The North Walpole shelter serves Bellows Falls and is within walking distance of downtown.
Rutland Herald

>> The Springfield Warming Shelter located at the North Springfield Baptist Church, 69 Main Street, North Springfield <<

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