Monroe offers shelters during cold weather

MONROE — An alliance formed by the city, churches and other organizations wants to make sure people in need have a warm place on the cold nights.

The Sky Valley Cold Weather Alliance is a group of organizations providing rotating shelters for at least one night a week.

The shelters will open when temperatures fall below 33 degrees for more than four hours.

The city is in charge of monitoring the temperatures and will make the decision if the shelter should open. The alliance started monitoring the temperatures last week and will continue until March 31.

“When the system is activated, the dominoes will fall and we have everything in place to open (a shelter),” said Collette Reams, committee member of the alliance and spokeswoman for the Valley General Hospital in Monroe.

The idea came from Neil Watkins, executive director of the Sky Valley Food Bank.

Even though his goal was to create one permanent shelter, this is a good beginning, he said.

“It is a temporary solution. We do what we can do, so those folks have a place to go when it gets too cold,” Watkins said.

Watkins first approached the YMCA earlier this year. The organization has different programs that prevented it from creating a permanent shelter, but formed the alliance with churches to share shelter duties.

The shelter helps the homeless and people who cannot afford heating, said Hannah Lunstrum, who works for the YMCA in Monroe.

“We are starting slow,” Lunstrum said. “It will be great down the road to have a year-round shelter, but we need more resources.”

The shelter is to have at least three volunteers. The volunteers will be trained in safety and medical issues by Valley General Hospital staff.

People will be fed with food provided by the Sky Valley Food Bank. Non-perishable food, socks and toiletries are needed. They can be donated through the food bank or the YMCA.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call 425-388-5075.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@ heraldnet.com.

Shelter sites

Cold weather shelters in Monroe are scheduled to open 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Friday through Monday and from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday at different locations depending on the day:

Sundays and Fridays: Covenant Church, 202 S. Sams St.

Mondays: The Rock Church, 16891 146th St. SE.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: Cascade Church, 14377 167th Ave. SE

Saturdays: Monroe YMCA, 14033 Fryelands Blvd. SE

To know if the shelter has been activated, call 360-453-7622 after 2 p.m.

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