The Gorge is bracing for a new blast of arctic cold this week. Referrals are starting to be made, connecting the homeless with the community's new warming shelter program.
With growing numbers of reported homeless in the area, local churches and agencies came together to provide warm beds for those facing cold nights this winter.
As a result of community meetings, a rotating shelter schedule staffed by volunteers and hosted by four local churches, is now in operation.
The most recent free training session held on Jan. 8, netted another 50 community members willing to help with the project. Flyers have now been translated into Spanish.
What is needed now are people willing to cover the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shifts, providing supervision at the rotating warming shelter church sites.
"People can split that shift if needed," said Linda Presley, warming shelter organizer. "We've had a few people take a 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. shift and a few take the 1:30 to 6 a.m. stretch. We still need more, though."
Although the next training session will be held in late January or early February, Presley hopes that those already trained will be willing to cover the later hours.
That's not to discourage anyone new from calling and volunteering.
"We can pair an untrained person with a trained one once background checks are completed," stated Presley.
For more information on shift coverage, contact Andy Wade, volunteer coordinator, at 541-806-5415.
Like many community groups finding ways to help, The Fruit Company recently donated fresh fruit to the project. Anyone wishing to contribute to the project may send checks to: Hood River Warming Shelter, P.O. Box 656, Hood River, OR 97031.
"We know the hospital has begun making referrals to people so the word is getting out," stated Presley.
ROTATING SHELTER SITE SCHEDULE:
Entry and registration is available from 7-9 p.m. when temperature is 35 degrees or below; doors close at 9 p.m. Sheltering is available through 7 a.m. the following day.
n Jan. 9-15 and Feb. 13-19 - Riverside Community Church, Fourth and State streets
n Jan. 16-22 and Feb. 6-12 - St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 400 11th St.
n Jan. 23-29 and Feb. 20-26 - Immanuel Lutheran Church, Ninth and State streets.
n Jan. 30 to Feb. 5 - Hood River Alliance Church, Montello Ave. at Rand Road (in modular building to the east of the main building, southeast corner of main parking lot).