Carson City volunteers make bold move, now provide nightly warming shelter for homeless

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Carson City volunteers make bold move, now provide nightly warming shelter for homeless

CarsonNow.Org December 7, 2017

With cold weather having settled into the region, five churches in Carson City have partnered this season to operate nightly winter warming shelters for the area’s homeless. These volunteer-staffed shelters will rotate monthly, each providing a warm place to sleep for the homeless and their pets. (Full Story Here)

The first shelter opened Nov. 18 and is located at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Community Church. It will operate through Dec. 22. The shelter will move each month throughout winter to each of the participating churches. Here is the schedule:

— First United Methodist: Dec. 23 to Jan. 31

— St. Paul’s Lutheran: Feb. 1 to Feb. 28

— St. Peter’s Episcopal: March 1 to March 31

The Salvation Army, the fifth church organization, is helping as well by donating the use of a transport van that picks up clients at F.I.S.H (Friends In Service Helping) organization, 9 p.m. sharp each night.

The van is often driven by Carson City Sheriff’s Office Chaplain and Shelter Coordinator Craig LaGier.

“We’re here if they want the help. All they’ve got to do is ask. We’ve got the resources,” he said.

According to LaGier, the shelter is open to all who need a warm place to stay the night. Pets are accepted and clients who may be intoxicated will not be turned away. However, drugs and alcohol are not allowed inside.

The clients at the shelter receive a cot, blankets and hot water and decaf coffee. Kennels for pets provided by the local Pets of The Homeless organization are available as well. The clients can mingle and wind down before lights out at 10 p.m.

“Unfortunately we do have a homeless problem in Carson City. This year’s warming shelter is a big improvement over what we’ve done in the past,” said Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell. “We live in a wonderful community where people care for each other and that is evident by this warming shelter.”

In previous years, a warming shelter was operated at Fuji Park, but would only open if temperatures reached 16 degrees or colder. This left people in frigid temperatures throughout much of the winter. LaGier himself has come upon people on the street who have died due to freezing temperatures in the past.

With the current arrangements the shelter is open 7 nights a week through March 31, including holidays.

“We did this for a month last year to see if this would work and three guys found themselves a job,” said LaGier. “One picked up a position working for the city and another received a manufacturing job in Gardnerville.”

Shelter clients spoke graciously of Chaplain LaGier. After parking the van he walked with the passengers to the door of the church carrying a backpack to assist one of them.

“Do you ever sleep?” one of the homeless clients asked LaGier. The chaplain then replied “sleep is over-rated.”

Last year the Carson City Sheriff’s Office opened its Ormsby Room to the shelter on a few occasion in which the Fuji Park location was not accessible. Aside from some minor challenges, Sheriff Ken Furlong thought it went well.

“I was very happy to see the churches take on the challenge this year,” he said. “We are seeing everyone stepping up for the right reasons and the right outcomes.”

While the new shelter exists, the nightly challenges are real, Furlong said. The homeless can get into peril in the cold and that’s why it is important the facilities remain versatile.

“The city thanks all of those involved in providing this necessary and humanitarian service,” said Crowell.

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