For the last two seasons, the shelter has rotated its weekly base between 28 local churches that have offered space, volunteers and food. With its new permanent site, executive director Brad Vivoda said the shelter will be able to be open year-round and offer shelter earlier in the day, starting at 5 p.m.
“Dinner will no longer have to be served at 8 p.m., but at maybe 6 p.m.,” Vivoda said. “That will add a little more normalcy in their lives. What we really hope to provide is a transition to a better life for these people.”
The capital campaign for the new facility has raised about $480,000 of the $950,000 needed to build the facility and to fund its maintenance endowment fund. Vivoda said they also hope to get electricians and plumbers to donate time to help with wiring and piping. Miron Construction is the contractor.
The need for the shelter is apparent. Vivoda said there has been an increase in people using the rotating shelter this year, from October through April, over the previous 2008-09 season, which was one month shorter. This year, the Warming Shelter hosted 214 individuals, including 43 women. The number of women needing shelter — double from the 2008-09 season — surprised Vivoda, but he said he can’t explain the increased need. The number of veterans also increased this year, from 15 to 26.
Vivoda said it just reminds him that “we’re one big village and we’re responsible for our children and for each other. It’s just that ‘there but for the grace of God, go I.'”
The new building will be able to host 40 individuals comfortably, but there is room for more if needed. It will also have showers and laundry facilities and “a huge kitchen,” which Vivoda said will be helpful to the various church and communities groups who will continue to host meals for the clients.
While the Warming Shelter does not duplicate services offered by other shelters, such as case management, they do plan to offer basic programs such as AA meetings. They are also working with Fox Valley Technical College to offer occupational therapy via student interns.
For more information on the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, visit their Web Site at www.foxvalley warmingshelter.org. The shelter is also included in the Easter Wish List on The Compass Web site.