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Cold-weather plan revamped

July 30, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Freezing temperatures, blowing snow and windchill may seem like dim memories during the current heat wave, but people like Terri Baker, Glenda Helman and others are thinking ahead to hot meals, warm cots and housing the homeless when the weather turns cold.

Baker, director of REACH, and Helman, director of services at Community Action Council, represent two of many agencies in Washington County that work with the homeless year-round.

The 2002-2003 Freezing Weather Plan prepared by the Task Force on Homelessness in Washington County is being revised.

The plan addresses what would happen if there were a cold snap early in the fall or late in the spring or if there is a prolonged period of low temperatures during the shelter's regular season.

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If that would occur, the staff duty officer of Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications would make the decision whether to activate the plan.

Families caught out in the cold would be referred to the Salvation Army, St. John's Shelter for the Homeless on Randolph Avenue or to a motel if necessary. Men would be housed at the Hagerstown Rescue Mission.

Emergency transportation would be shared by city, county and state police. Emergency shelters would be staffed by agency personnel and volunteers, according to the plan.

Day shelter during extreme weather would include the Salvation Army and Rescue Mission's common areas, and the REACH Cold Weather Shelter would stay open, according to the plan.

The REACH Cold Weather Shelter in Washington County is scheduled to open Oct. 27 at the Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown on North Prospect Street, Baker said. Normal hours are 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

While most weeks of the 2002-2003 winter season are taken, there are some openings for churches or other organizations willing to open their doors or roll up their sleeves.

"Lunches are always needed because the homeless can't get to soup kitchens if they are working or trying to find work," Baker said.

Other churches, civic groups, service clubs and volunteers staff the shelter, make breakfasts and lunches, and donate supplies such as paper products and food.

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