Waynesboro Churches Unite to Help Homeless

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Through a united front of churches, Waynesboro is starting to address its homelessness problem on a larger scale. Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry's (WARM) thermal shelter began its season Monday night at Fishersville United Methodist Church.

This time last year, WARM was fighting to house its rotating thermal shelter in Waynesboro churches to give homeless adults a hot meal and a warm, safe place to sleep.

Jerry Kestner, WARM organizer, said, "This is their last resort. They don't have anywhere else to go."

The ministry was able to follow through last year with the help of county churches. But now after a change in the zoning ordinance, WARM has some new hosts.

"The Main Street United Methodist Church couldn't do it last year because they were in one of the zones that weren't allowed to do this. They've come on board. Shenandoah Heights Baptist Church, the Waynesboro Mennonite Church…" Kestner said.

Last year, they averaged eight to 12 men and women each night, sometimes with as many as 15. Organizers say the need was apparent.

"Last year kind of was an eye opener for some people that, ‘Wow, there really is a homeless population in Waynesboro,'" Kestner said.

Community members from across the Shenandoah Valley have stepped up. The Valley Girl Quilters, a group of eight women eager to help, stitched 20 quilts for the shelter.

Janet Gillentine, of Valley Girl Quilters, said, "They just jumped in with both feet. Never sniveled, never said a word except, ‘what do you want us to do next?'"

The quilters were determined to make a difference, one stitch at a time.

"Every stitch was put in these with love. I guarantee it. To show these people our love for them because of Jesus' love for all of us," Gillentine said.

WARM offers other resources as well and is working toward transitional housing to help people get back on their feet.

Click here for more information on WARM or if you want to help.

Reported by Tara Todd