Waynesboro’s WARM getting ready to open church shelter for area homeless

Waynesboro's WARM getting ready to open church shelter for area homeless

WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - Despite the WARM Shelter’s partnership with a motel housing 40 area homeless there are those who still need a safe place to sleep.

WARM is overcoming the challenges of a pandemic, an exhausted and small staff, and a funding shortfall to hopefully help more people with their most basic needs.

Thanks to some funding from the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, the WARM Shelter is just a week or two away from opening up a way to keep more people safe this winter.

“We do not want people sleeping outside in the cold. We do not want folks unsheltered during the coldest months,” said WARM Executive Director Debra Freeman-Belle.

Right now, 40 people are on a waiting list for a WARM bed.

“It’s a mix of folks who are unsheltered with nowhere to go, or just sleeping wherever they can with friends or family, or the little resources they have,” stated Freeman-Belle.

While WARM’s bigger mission is working with Valley Homeless Connection partners to move people out of homelessness and into housing, its core focus and more immediate need is getting people off the street.

“So if there’s something small we can do to continue trying to insure that then that’s what we will do,” stated Freeman-Belle.

It’s what they are doing, getting ready to open up a scaled-back, very basic overnight shelter at a Waynesboro church through the end of March.

“Literally sleep only with basic provisions. I’m doing non-perishable basic food just to put something in folks belly,” said Freeman-Belle.

Hopefully, getting 10 more people out of the cold and into beds.

“This is a band-aid. This is not a solution,” stated Freeman-Belle. But, it’s a response she says WARM can manage and one that could save a life. “We don’t want to take a chance and not know we did everything to avoid maybe a possible cold weather exposure-related death.”

Folks needing to request a shelter bed can call the Valley Homeless Connection at 540-213-7347. There’s also an online shelter request form on WARM’s Get Help page that’s mobile and web-friendly.

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