09 Oct Preparing for Winter Contingency in Bloomington
Last week, I shared about Winter Contingency in Indianapolis. From November 1—March 31, we transform any usable space into sleeping areas, sheltering anyone in need of warmth and shelter. No one is turned away. This week, read on to learn about Winter Contingency in Bloomington, how we step in at our Center for Men and Center for Women & Children—Bloomington.
Back in 2009, representatives from many local faith communities saw an unmet need in Monroe County. There were growing concerns regarding the safety and well-being of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness—especially during the treacherously cold months. In order to provide everyone with safe, warm shelter, these representatives banded together to form the Interfaith Emergency Winter Shelter (IEWS). The network grew to involve over 20 faith communities, approximately 450 volunteers, and various government, public, and private entities. Collaborating together out of compassion for their neighbors, the group acted in unison to share the responsibility of providing emergency shelter.
Wheeler steps in.
The 20+ faith communities shared the load of offering shelter, but it was logistically challenging with guests traveling to different sites each night. In addition, there was no case management, life skills training, or the ability to offer organized care—housing, health care, ID procurement, job readiness development, etc. It made sense to bring the operation into one building in order to provide comfort, consistency, and holistic care—which the IEWS could not do. This is a niche Wheeler Mission—Bloomington could fill. In 2017, we stepped in with support of the participating faith communities. And in 2019, Interfaith Emergency Winter Shelter officially dissolved and transitioned completely to Winter Contingency at Wheeler Mission—Bloomington.
More than shelter.
In addition to shelter, we provide programs and opportunities for our guests to progress from the street to stabilization and re-enter into the community through permanent and other housing opportunities. Wheeler shares the same compassion for those experiencing homelessness that the IEWS organization held. Today, we’re so thankful for the continued support of these faith communities as we move forward to better address the needs of those experiencing homelessness in Monroe County and South Central Indiana.
Serve with us!
Wheeler Mission—Bloomington receives no government funds for operating the Winter Contingency emergency shelter, and we rely on our generous community to come alongside us. From November 1—March 31, we anticipate serving an additional 33 men and women per night, on average, boosting our numbers to about 140 people per night. Want to help us provide food, safety, and shelter to those experiencing homelessness this winter? Check out three volunteer opportunities below and sign up here.
Clean Up—Strip beds, sort and bag linens, wipe down mattresses and bunk bed frames.
Bagging/Check In—Bag belongings, check in guests, hand out bedrolls, assist guests in locating correct bunks.
Meals—Serve meals or provide an evening snack.
To empower our volunteers, we’ll offer several trainings throughout October. View the dates below and register for a training here.
Thank you for your partnership as we work together to provide shelter and care for our South Central neighbors this winter!