Warming Center opens as temperatures drop

Published 7:30 pm Monday, February 15, 2021

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As temperatures drop below 20 and 30 degrees in LaGrange, the Warming Center will open its doors this week. The Warming Center opened its doors again in late November and has seen an average of 10 to 15 occupants each night it is open. 

According to Anabeth Ivey, marketing and sales specialist for New Ventures, in previous years they have averaged 30 occupants a night.

Ivey said that even though the homeless population hasn’t changed much, they attribute the decrease in occupancy to COVID-19. 

“Additionally, it is being said a lot of the homeless population has chosen to hunker down in the woods in tents,” Ivey said. “They just don’t want to leave their stuff. They don’t have a way to carry their stuff and don’t want it to get stolen.” 

This year the center had to implement changes due to COVID concerns and precautions. Masks have to be worn, temperatures have to be taken and social distancing measures are in place. 

In years past, the Warming Center would open at 5 p.m. and close at 8 a.m. the following morning. This year anyone staying at the center must be out of the facility by 7 a.m.

Staff also sanitizes the room before the Warming Center opens for the evening. New Ventures has had to change logistics with transportation due to the time change in the morning. The warming center can hold up to 75 people each night it is open. Those seeking shelter from the cold can find out if the center is open on signs that are strategically posted in the community and also online. 

Local law enforcement will give anyone who calls and says they are homeless a ride to the Warming Center. 

Due to COVID regulations, New Ventures is not able to utilize local ministries to help cook dinners for those staying at the Warming Center.

To counter that, the center needs microwavable food items, canned or bottled drinks and snacks. 

The center is in need of blankets and outwear items like jackets, sweatpants and gloves. 

Ivey said they are also in need of volunteers. Those interested in signing up to volunteer can send a message on the Homeless Coalition Facebook page or email Mike Wilson at mwilson@newventures.org.