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PACEM Prepares to House the Homeless in the Cold Winter Months

Posted: Updated: Nov 02, 2014 10:34 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry (PACEM), a seasonal homeless shelter in Charlottesville, is now housing people.

PACEM opened for the first time last weekend. But as temperatures drop, the program is seeing a spike in people coming in to find a warm bed for the night. PACEM started 10 years ago in honor of a homeless person who died on the street after being exposed to too much cold weather.

The season for the shelter runs from October through March. Last year, the nonprofit and its network of host churches helped 218 homeless people. Some stay just a few weeks, others come every night.

"They really do appreciate the fact that they are not sleeping on the street,  that they have a warm meal and a safe place to stay at night. That's really what PACEM is about proving in the community," said Jesse Boeckermann, a PACEM program director.

To sign up for shelter, people line up outside The Haven in downtown Charlottesville around 5:30 each evening. A bus takes them to one of the 80 participating churches that house the homeless.

There are about 3,000 PACEM, volunteers who do everything from cook to help with logistics.  "I started volunteering at PACEM in 2011 and it's an unbelievable program that brings together so many people in the community to really help those in need,” said Boeckermann.

With the cold winter months ahead, PACEM, is preparing to provide a warm place to stay for even more people. “Our numbers are unusually high this season and I think it is the weather that is driving folks to the shelters so early,” said Grzegorczyk.”

The shelters are in need of new and gently used blankets. To donate or volunteer you can call PACEM at 434-973-1234, extension 114 or donate online here.

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