Volunteers helped prepare the extreme weather  shelter on Monday.

Volunteers helped prepare the extreme weather shelter on Monday.

Shelter offers a break from winter’s chill

All hands were on deck at Trail's United Church to pull out beds and finalize arrangements to open the extreme weather shelter on Monday.

The warmth of community spirit lingered in the basement of Trail’s United Church as all hands were on deck to pull out beds and finalize arrangements to open the extreme weather shelter on Monday.

This is the third year that La Nina, Greater Trail’s temporary shelter, will open its doors to welcome the homeless to come in out of the cold.

This year, the Career Development Services (CDS) is partnered with the Greater Trail Community Skills Centre and the United Church to help individuals using the shelter.

The CDS already has a homelessness program in place, so to direct the shelter was a natural transition.

“We support a lot of the individual’s who may need to utilize the shelter,” said Sheila Adcock, CDS coordinator for the La Nina Program.  “We know which agencies to connect them with and we can help the person to find work, support and housing.”

Adcock said that shelter is only a temporary stop, and the CDS will assist with a long-term plan.

“Every morning, there will be an outreach worker who will meet with the persons, to find out and bring them to whatever community resources are needed for the day,” said Adcock.

“We have the support for anyone in the community needing housing, and we can help them find it.”

Kate’s Kitchen and the Selkirk College food program will donate food for the night, breakfast and a packed lunch for the day, if needed.

Earlier this year, the province denied funding to cover the cost of shower passes to the Trail Aquatic Centre and bus passes for residents of the shelter.

Now, the CDS is meeting with the West Kootenay Brain Injury Society, to request the use of its clubhouse for showers and a warm place to interact during the day.

“Individuals who are homeless and struggling need somewhere to go not only at night, but during the day as well.”

Under the umbrella of emergency response funding from BC Housing, the shelter’s committee is mandated to send out an alert to various agencies to inform them that the shelter has been initiated.

“RCMP, Mental Health & Addiction Services, FAIR and the hospital, just to name a few, have received an alert about the date and times the shelter is open,” said Sheila Adcock, coordinator from the CDS.

The first year, the shelter only opened on nights when the weather was forecasted to drop below freezing.

“We are not dependent on the weather, like the first year,” said Adcock.

“Monitoring the weather to decide what nights to open, just wasn’t meeting the needs of the homeless community, and having staff on call for only possible days was difficult.”

Last year three to six people used the shelter each night, although this year, the committee is not sure what to expect.

“At the end of the day, the best outcome we can see of the shelter is that nobody needs it because they are all housed,” said Adcock.