We Need You for the Winter Freeze Shelter

Feature Photo by Rebecaa Kiger

A community project that serves homeless adults needs your help. The Winter Freeze Shelter uses volunteers to assist shelter supervisors overnight. Volunteers arrive at the Youth Services System Central Office, 87 15th Street by 9:00 pm. They help with serving the evening meal and clean-up. Importantly, they offer conversation and dignity to the Winter Freeze Shelter guests. They provide comfort and security overnight by watching over them as they rest. By 8:00 am, the guests and the volunteers will have left for the day.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please call YSS and speak to Holly Fox 304- 218-2847 to find out more and to take an overnight shift. The Winter Freeze Shelter runs every night from December 15—March 15.

What is the Winter Freeze Shelter?

Youth Services System, Inc. began opening its doors to those with no shelter in 2009. Using the administrative floor of their central office at 87 15th Street, YSS has welcomed over 700 guests to stay one or more nights in the middle of winter. The Winter Freeze Shelter began, much like the children’s story Stone Soup with a vessel—rooms at the former Hazel Atlas Building that could accommodate beds at a time when other shelter is at capacity.

Last year, West Liberty Elementary School student, Branden Wade organizes a blanket drive for the Winter Freeze Shelter. Pictured here with his parents, Jason & Amanda Wade.

Like that children’s story, notice was taken and the caring community decided that they could add to the recipe. The plan for the shelter is simple to have a meal there for when the Winter Freeze Shelter guests arrived. After eating, they could go to a room with beds—one for men and another room for women– and lay down for the night.

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Individuals like Steve Novotney, businesses, church groups, and YSS ( their Mulholland Juvenile Center and their Transitional Living Program youth) all took a role in providing the meal. Donations of clothing, bedding and more arrived.

Dr. William Mercer brought a team of medical volunteers in the Winter Freeze Shelter at night to offer exams and care. Northwood Health Systems had staff come by to meet with the Freeze guests and offer advice and services.

Winter Freeze Shelter dormitory rooms and YSS halls are decorated with art from this Girl Scout troop.

Relationships formed, and guests received help to meet their needs. Individuals found housing, jobs, and support. For some guests, they were able to end their lives housed and with a community of people who knew and cared for them.

The Winter Freeze Shelter opens tonight, December 15 and will be open every night until March 17. 2017. The water is simmering for this year’s soup, what will you add?

Volunteers from Christ United Methodist Church who dressed the Winter Freeze Shelter beds in 2016. They returned again this year.