Paso Cares opens warming shelter
–Paso opened its first emergency warming shelter on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Since then, however, the shelter has not been open as the sponsoring organization, Paso Cares, irons out problems it has encountered. Paso Cares President Cherie Michaelson said that the shelter will open again on Monday, Nov. 30.
This winter, she said, the warming shelter will be open Monday through Thursday when temperatures are expected to drop below 35 degrees or there is 50 percent or greater chance of rain. According to Paso Cares, as of January 2014, more than 800 people, at least half of them children, were homeless in Paso Robles.
“We start making the call on Friday and finalize it by Sunday for the coming week,” Michaelson said.
Right now, Paso Robles Community Church hosts the shelter on Mondays and Wednesdays and Life Community Church in Templeton hosts it on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Michaelson said that the organization is seeking more churches so that the shelter can be open seven days a week. She said Paso Robles Community Church has committed to only December because the church will be renovated. Life Community Church has given a two-month commitment.
“But everything depends on how it goes,” Michaelson said. “We’re going to get more churches. I have five churches we are working with. It’ll change come January.”
The shelter is open from 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Everyone that would like to stay in the shelter must attend dinner at People’s Kitchen at 1937 Riverside Ave. in order to be screened before being admitted to the shelter. Dinner is served from 5 to 6 p.m., those staying in the shelter are transported to the shelter when it’s held in Templeton.
“They have to come through dinner in order to be screened,” Michaelson said. “As long as they’re not acting up, they’re OK to go into the warming station. These people we know, we deal wit them daily, so we feel really comfortable with the people we put in the shelter that night.”
As the warming shelter has only 12 beds, once screened, priority is given to women, children and families.
“Our goal is to house the homeless and to maybe get a full time warming station so they have a place to go every night,” Michaelson said. “It’s not getting better and they need to get out of the river beds. It’s not going to be safe for them with the rains that are coming.”
The shelter runs solely on volunteers and Paso Cares is seeking volunteers to stay the night in the shelter. Each night, two volunteers are needed, one of which needs to be a male. The volunteers monitor the guests and the shelter, making sure there aren’t any problems. During the night while guests are asleep, volunteers take turns sleeping. Once in the shelter, all guests are not permitted to leave until 6:30 a.m. They are there to be safe, to be warm and to sleep,” Michaelson said.
Paso Cares was formed four years ago by residents who want to help those in need in the community. Michaelson said that they people being served by the warming shelter are likely not be serviced by El Camino Homeless Organization in Atascadero because they are unable to get there. In addition to the warming shelter, which she said the organization hopes will become permanent in the future, it also has a program called RVs for Veterans, where individuals are able to donate RVs or other vehicles that are then given directly to a homeless veteran.
To volunteer or donate to the warming shelter or to donate to RVs for Veterans, call Michaelson at (805) 712-7067.