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Warming Centers provide safe haven for cold nights

Faith Lutheran Church offers sanctuary from the cold.
Hannah Hawkins / Mainstream
Faith Lutheran Church offers sanctuary from the cold.

For some college students, their biggest worry is paying for college, but for others, the biggest worry is where to sleep at night. Winter is the hardest time of year for people without homes. However, the Umpqua Valley Warming Center is assisting by providing shelter on nights where the temperature reaches below 30 degrees.

Roughly 25 to 30 people attend the Warming Center on nights that it is open.

The Center, run by the Douglas County Housing and Homeless Coalitions, provides a free cot, clean bedding, and a warm meal at their host site, the Faith Lutheran Church. The Center has been open for three years, from mid-November until the end of March with the help of volunteers and donations. Phoenix School, for example, helps provide food while Value Clean Laundry provides clean bedding.

Volunteers can work one of four different shifts, each shift with different tasks and roughly four to six members per shift.

Andie Sewell, a current pre-nursing UCC student, has volunteered with her mother at the Warming Center this winter. “The warming center is welcoming, and most of the attendees interact with each other and are very friendly,” she says.

To help make the site welcoming, the Center provides visitors with first aid kits and bath items to take with them as well as socks, gloves and jackets as they are available. A warm meal, snacks and beverages are given during the night, and a small snack is provided for breakfast. According to Ian Smith, a DCHHC staff member, dogs are welcome, and food is provided for the pets as well.

After attendees check-in at the front desk, they can put their bags into a secure room that is watched by volunteers before they relax. Magazines and decks of cards are also available.

Transportation is also provided to the host site of Faith Lutheran Church on 820 W. Kenwood Street in Roseburg from three different pick-up and drop-off locations:

  • Central Park (Sutherlin) at 6 p.m.
  • Douglas County Library (Roseburg Branch) at 6:30 p.m.
  • Point where SE Burke Street and Stephens Street meet (Roseburg) at 6:45 p.m.

Smith states that one of the main goals of the DCHHC is “to reach beyond Roseburg and create a network of warming center sites to reach a network of people.” At this time, finding other shelter in Douglas County is very difficult.

For more information on the services provided by the Warming Center or about volunteering, contact Larry Bangs at (541) 643-9748 or dchhc541@gmail.com.