Warming Center Presentation
Presentation to Olympia City Council, Tuesday December 15, 2015
My name is Max Goldsmith and I’m the lead support staff for the warming center program, a partnership between three faith communities and the Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter. A few weeks ago First Christian Church, Temple Beth Hatfiloh and The United Churches of Olympia decided to open their doors between 7am and 1pm every day on a rotating schedule as an emergency warming center for the winter months and plan to stay open through March of 2016. The warming center ran the first two weeks primarily with volunteer support and beginning last week Interfaith Works stepped in to support the effort by providing trained, experienced staff to manage it. We believe that this will ensure that the space and the neighborhood continue to stay well managed and that our experienced staff are the best around in terms of mitigating undesirable issues that may arise.
Over the past two weeks we’ve seen an average of 65 unique individuals each day, with a high of 118 on December 10th. That means we’ve made almost 1000 contacts with folks in just two weeks. So far it’s been going really smooth. It’s very quiet and been utilized at a higher rate than we expected. We served 108 unique individuals throughout the day today and many of the guests of the warming center are people who don’t have access to shelter at night, so we are making new contacts each day. We’re widening our network on the streets, engaging people that are not accessing services anywhere else, and because of our limited beds every night we’re not able to see everyone so with the warming center we’re able to broaden that reach. Many of the people utilizing our services come in right at 7am, and sleep all the way until 1:00. They’ve been out all night and are wet. They’re freezing and they just want undisturbed rest for as much time as they can have. During the day guests have been making wreaths to sell at winter markets, taking respite from the elements, and using the computer and phone to be able to take care of business. We currently have outreach workers from the PATH program, the CHOICE program, the free herbal clinic and are partnering for the upcoming annual homeless census. And we’re also excited about engaging the greater community to bring activities for people to do like art projects and enrichment classes.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak today, and we’re dedicated to serving the most vulnerable people on our streets and we commend you all for working with us to do that. We also invite the community members to get engaged.
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