Becoming A Warming Center
Adapting to serve out community
March 05, 2021
In mid-February, when temperatures fell to below zero, Damien Center opened its doors to individuals experiencing homelessness. Staff and volunteers stayed on-site around the clock for four days to provide a warm, safe, and clean place to sleep, as well as nutritious food, connections to needed services, and friends to talk to. While temperatures outside would have been incredibly dangerous, 13 guests were safe at Damien Center.
“What does advocate mean?” Ben, one of the guests, asked. He was looking at a poster hanging in the lobby, and that word caught his attention. “An advocate is someone who supports or stands up for another person,” I told him. “It’s something that we do here for our clients. A lot of people are struggling and need someone to help…and that’s what we do.”
“I like that,” Ben said.
Ben is young and new to living on the streets after some financial setbacks. While staying at Damien, he connected to services and got on track to longer-term, supportive housing. He received an HIV test and learned about PrEP.
His question made me realize how much advocacy is part of our daily routine at Damien Center. We advocate for those who call us “home,” using whatever tools we have to help them meet their goals.
Most importantly, when the guests left, they all had options. Whether it was an apartment, a ticket on a bus back to family, or a temporary resting place until they could find more permanent housing, they all had a pathway to a more sustainable living situation.
Stephen McCoy (he/him)
Vice President of Donor Relations