MOUNT VERNON — Those in need of a warm, safe place to stay overnight now have a local refuge during the winter months. The Winter Sanctuary, located in St. Paul’s Parish House at the corner of South Gay and East High streets, opened on Nov. 1. As of Friday, seven men and two women have already taken shelter overnight at The Winter Sanctuary.
Operating previously for just men, shelter is now offered for women and children as well at Vineyard Church, located at 800 Harcourt Road. Women and children seeking shelter are asked to check in for processing at the Parish House on High Street where they will then be transported to Vineyard Church. The location at Vineyard Church is temporary, and a permanent site is being sought by the Sanctuary board.
Sanctuary director Lisa Mazzari told the News that the only requirement to stay at The Winter Sanctuary is that a limited records check be conducted with the Mount Vernon Police Department. Visitors cannot be accepted who have an outstanding warrant or a sex offense.
Visitors can be taken in and housed from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week. A total of 91 individuals was served between November 2011 and April 2012.
“We still need volunteers,” said Mazzari. “Last year we staffed one building; this year we’re staffing two. So there’s double the need.” Volunteers are needed to work three-hour shifts where they can welcome the visitors, socialize and to see that bedtimes are observed and that all get out in a timely manner in the mornings.
Those willing to volunteer can contact Mazzari at 740-263-4182 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations of items are always welcome. A current need exists for cash, paper products and linens. The Winter Sanctuary will remain open until April 1, 2013.
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