Warming centers offer chance to escape cold, seek assistance

| February 1, 2019

COSHOCTON – The Salvation Army of Coshocton opened its doors as a warming center and those who attended were grateful for the chance to get inside and out of the cold.

“We depend on this place (The Salvation Army) a lot,” said a woman who did not wish to be identified.

She became homeless after losing her job and her friend, who shared a lunch of stew with her, fell on hard times after his wife died. They are able to stay with others in a house that is rented by someone, but that is not a permanent solution.

“It gets us in out of the cold and we look out for each other,” said the man, who also did not wish to be identified. “I wish I could buy a big 18-20 bedroom house so all my friends could have a place to go. People need to quit treating us like dirt.”

The woman agreed with him.

“There are people out there who really do need help,” she said.

The Salvation Army operated its warming center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 29-31 to give people a safe place to get out of the bitter cold and sub-zero temperatures that were predicted for those days.

Captain Tom Clark said there were several Salvation Armys in Northeast Ohio operarating warming centers and they knew they had the extra space to help people locally. Soup or a light lunch was served and adult winter wear was made available.

“We have warm coats, blankets, and mittens for anyone who needs them,” Clark said. “We can help people with childrens clothing too if they need it. We always seem to have more childrens clothing than adults though.”

Donations of adult coats and winter gear are welcome.

“That way if we get another cold snap we will be ready and prepared,” said Captain Victoria Clark.

Additional warming centers were located at the Coshocton Senior Center, the Coshocton Public Library and West Lafayette Branch Library.

“The EMA called and asked if we would be a warming center,” said Christy Neighbor, co-director of the senior center. “We are usually here anyway so it made sense for us to stay open later. We are here to help the community anyway we can.”

Jennifer Austin, library director, said the main library and West Lafayette Branch were open normal hours and welcomed people to come in and explore what the library has to offer.

“We thought this was a unique opportunity to get people in who normally don’t visit,” she said. “They could come in out of the cold, explore and find out things they didn’t know were available here. I’ve seen people today (Jan. 30) taking advantage of what we have to offer. They’ve been hanging out in the newspaper and magazine area and staying warm.”

The Salvation Army also made itself available to work with local agencies and authorities to provide temporary housing during what they are calling the Code Blue season.

“It (was) brutally cold out there,” Victoria said. “If people come and speak with us we will make housing arrangements with them. We have seven people housed right now and I anticipate more. We want to meet with people one on one so we can really find out what their issues are. A lot of times homelessness is just a band aid. We want to know their stories and where they are coming from. Everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”

After 3 p.m., Salvation Army officials are on call. If you know of someone who might need help, call 740-622-0971, or message the organization on Facebook.

“When we get a tip we will be right on it,” Victoria said.




Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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