January 5, 2017
A friendly place to keep warm
By Deidrah Stanchfield, Director of Augusta Community Warming Center
I was introduced to the Augusta Community Warming Center a few years ago, when it was located on Front Street. I knew a few people who volunteered there, and I had heard it was a place to be safe and warm during the day. I remember thinking, "I have a place to live, why would I need to go to a Warming Center?" Despite these reservations, I did visit one day. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few people I knew, and it felt really welcoming. When the Director at the time suggested I become an employee, I gave it a try.
That was three winters ago. What started as a weekend position became an investment, and a passion. I have experienced homelessness, as a child and as an adult. Helping those who are struggling is important to me. For some people, it is simply a safe, warm place. For some, it is a new beginning. For others still, it is a place to socialize, a place to give back to the community and a place to help others. Being part of this growing effort to help those in need in meaningful ways is an amazing opportunity.
Last year we had people 3,155 sign into the Warming Center and logged nearly 4,000 volunteer hours. Since opening for the season on Dec. 15, we have experienced higher numbers on a daily basis. We have also already helped more than 10 people who arrived homeless, with no place to go. By providing connections with resources and a safe place to start, some of these folks now have a place to call home.
The Warming Center is a bright, welcoming space for anyone who might be looking for a game of cribbage, an opportunity to volunteer or someone to listen and offer some resources. It is a place of hope and understanding.
The Warming Center is open daily through March 31, keeping people safe and warm from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 9 Pleasant Street in the St. Mark’s Church Parish Hall. To help the guests of the Augusta Community Warming Center, consider donating your lightly used boots, assembling a homeless care backpack or picking up an extra can of coffee, creamer or sugar. For an up-to-date list of needs, please "Like" us on Facebook. To donate funds to the Warming Center, visit uwkv.org/Donate.
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