Cherry Street Mission preparing for winterWritten by Kristen Criswell | | email@example.com
As temperatures drop, Cherry Street Mission Ministries is making sure it’s prepared to meet the needs of the community.
During the winter, the shelters see an influx of guests, said Dan Rogers, president and CEO of Cherry Street Mission. In the summer, the shelters run at roughly 85 percent capacity mission-wide, but during the winter the shelters can serve 110 to 115 percent of its capacity, he said.
The women’s shelters recently broke an attendance record and served 93 women on Halloween, said Angela Lashley, director of women’s ministry.
“We’re doing several things we’d normally do this time of year [to prepare for the cold],” Rogers said. “Everything from making sure our boilers are up to speed and ready for the winter … Making sure we have the proper quantities of blankets to keep our guests warm. Have hats, scarves, mittens and socks on hand to meet the human need.”
On Nov. 2, the boiler broke at the men’s shelter and will be approximately $16,000 to fix, according to Bob Schabel, director of facilities and maintenance. The ministry hopes to have it working again within the week.
The community can help the shelters gear up for the winter months by providing supplies, such as hats, gloves, scarves, blankets and socks.
“The most basic, common things you and I would think of having on a regular basis are not very common for the homeless,” Rogers said. “Most people don’t realize how often we change our socks. It isn’t a regular thing if you’re homeless. If you have the same socks, those are your same socks. If they got wet during the day, how would they get dry overnight for you to put them on in the morning?”
While the shelters need supplies, its greatest need is for volunteers.
“I don’t think women come worried about if they’re going to get soap or toiletries or a sheet. I think they are worried about their emotional needs. Someone to listen to them and talk to them,” Lashley said.
Volunteering can be a rewarding experience, said Charles Allen, director of men’s ministry.
“Volunteers come in and sometimes they look at Cherry Street as being meals and a bed, but then when they come in it’s so much more than that. We’re so engaged in our guests’ lives, from moving them forward to life transformations they then see … you guys aren’t just a shelter, you’re a place where people can come and truly gain tools, knowledge, insight and wisdom from others to help them move forward in life,” he said.
The women’s shelters have a total of 81 beds between Sparrow’s Nest and The Oaks, while the men’s shelter has 180 beds and 50 emergency cots.
In addition to its shelters, Cherry Street Mission provides approximately 800 meals a day, Rogers said.
Thanksgiving is Cherry Street’s largest volunteer-oriented season and biggest demand, Rogers said. In 2009, Cherry Street served more than 10,000 meals both in-house and through home delivery, he said.
Rogers predicts the mission may serve even more meals this year, with 300 requests for Thanksgiving food boxes already received by Nov. 2.
“If people have not volunteered at Cherry Street or any organization and are looking for a first-time experience in volunteerism, this is the easiest and best way to be involved,” Rogers said. “It’s very low in, but very high out. Low because you just put in about an hour commitment, but you see the community get better because you invested an hour into people.”
Those interested in volunteering, can call Cherry Street Missions at (419) 242-5141 and speak with Brenda Torres, volunteer administrator. All volunteers must attend an orientation, where they will learn about opportunities and fill out paperwork.
For more information, visit www.cherrystreetmission.org.