Volunteers scarce for winter warming center expansion

(KTVL/Georgia Lawson).PNG

Ashland’s Warming Center Program has struggled to find enough volunteers to keep it open and operational on the city’s coldest nights.

Faith centers and organizations have played a big role in keeping Ashland residents off the streets this winter, but now that same coalition needs help from the community in order to serve Ashland residents as best they can.

The Extreme Weather Warming Center, unlike Ashland's Winter Shelter Program, opens only on nights the city determines it is needed to keep Ashland residents warm and safe. Right now, that’s typically around 20 degrees, but the City of Ashland has been exploring the possibility of extending the nights it is open for all of those under 32 degrees.

While the shelter providers agree that the intention is good, extending the number of nights would add to an existing strain on the volunteers who already donate their hours to help those in need.

“On the one hand, volunteers do an exceptional job. We’re so blessed in this city to have so many compassionate, hardworking people in this effort. But at the same time, on the other hand, were asking them to do a lot," says Ken Gudger, President of Option for Helping Residents of Ashland, a nonprofit that helps organize and coordinate services for those at and below the poverty line, often working with the city on their collaborative.

Gudger says they need three volunteers per night for both the shelter and the warming center when it's open. Over the winter, that adds up to a lot of people working a lot of hours.

So while they want to help, they also need to focus on sustaining their current operations before growing.

If you'd like to volunteer your time, contact Phil Johncock at (702)518-8756. You do not need to be affiliated with any of the partnering groups to do so.

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