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Shelter gets ready for winter

August 11, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

Despite the heat, the staff and volunteers of Washington County's Cold Weather Shelter are preparing for the winter of 1999-2000.

"We're lining up congregations now who are committing for the shelter," said Terri Baker, director of the agency that operates the shelter at the site of the former Cannon Shoe Factory at 148 W. Franklin St. through spring each year.

Christ's Reformed United Church of Christ owns the building housing the shelter, which will open this season on Sunday, Oct. 31. The shelter will close on April 23, 2000.

Sponsored by the Religious Effort to Assist and Care For Homeless People and Washington County congregations, this is the second year the shelter will remain at the West Franklin Street site instead of moving every two weeks.

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So far, Christ's Reformed, St. John's Lutheran, Faith Chapel, St. Paul's Lutheran in Funkstown, the Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown, Trinity Lutheran, Congregation B'nai Abraham, Emmanuel and John Wesley United Methodist churches have signed up, Baker said.

Instead of having the homeless come to their churches, the congregations will schedule volunteers who will staff the shelter and provide food.

"There are two shifts," Baker said. "The first is from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m., and then from late evening to 7 a.m."

That second shift overlaps the earlier shift, Baker said.

Training for volunteers will be Oct. 5 and 7 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and Oct. 9 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the shelter.

Last year the shelter fed and housed 250 people, which is an indication of the need for the service, said Baker.

When established in 1996, the shelter served 12 adults a night. The second year, that number doubled.

The shelter operates seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and professional security is on site throughout each night.

Services include hot meals, hygiene items, blankets, cots, security, showers, laundry assistance, mail/telephone service, helping agency outreach, referral and sometimes monetary assistance for individuals. The shelter is intended for adult men and women.

"We are also looking for congregations, businesses and organizations interested in providing 45 lunches per day for one week," Baker said. She suggested a sandwich, chips, a fruit and something sweet.

Anyone interested in helping may call 301-733-2371.

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