Blankets still needed
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Three extreme weather nights so far this winter have prompted a temporary overnight shelter to open, and each time, the shelter has been able to meet needs thanks to the generosity of the community.
Directors of the nonprofit organization The Source in Vero Beach said during two recent cold nights, Dec. 12 and 13, people were kept safe and warm inside their building thanks to donations of blankets and food.
A very wet night in November also led to an overnight opening.
Dennis Bartholomew, director of The Source, which is the only consistent location to open during cold weather conditions in Indian River County, said the numbers were a little lower than usual, but all who came were very grateful for the respite from the weather.
When the nonprofit is open for extra hours during extreme weather, the homeless and needy in the community can come in the evening until 9 p.m. and find a place to bunk down for the night, Mr. Bartholomew said.
"At 9 p.m. we shut the door and lock it. We often play movies, make hot chocolate and pop some popcorn. We try to make it just like what you would do at your house," he said.
The directors of the shelter review weather information from the county department of emergency services and usually decide at noon on the day extreme weather is expected. Press releases notifying the community of an opening are issued through the county emergency services management division to the local media.
The cold night shelter is usually opened when temperatures are forecasted to be 35 degrees Fahrenheit or rainy and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
While it is difficult to predict the next time the temporary shelter will open, one thing is certain, without the help of the public making donations, The Source wouldn't be able to carry out its ministry to the homeless and needy, Mr. Bartholomew said.
The cost for keeping the shelter open overnight is approximately $300, he said.
Financial donations or donations of food and blankets are always needed, even if the shelter isn't open overnight.
The Source is open regularly six days a week and offers hot meals, emergency food, clothing, showers and other services to the homeless and near-homeless in Vero Beach and Indian River County.
For more information about The Source, visit www.iamthesource.org.