|I spent Monday and Wednesday nights at the Shoreline Emergency Winter Shelter. The shelter is in the old police station on 185th. We opened at 8:30pm and closed at 8am morning. Yep, I stayed up all night on the intake table, while our guests slept on 5″ thick mats on the floor. My volunteer partner stayed near the back door and the women’s area.|
We put the men in the larger room up front and I spent the night with them. They were all young, 20s to early 30s―so young, I wanted call their mothers and let them know that, at least for that night, their sons were safe, warm and dry.
One of the guys was a newbie. The other guys shared tips with him on which bus routes he could ride the longest without having to get off, which libraries would let him hang out all day, which shelters to avoid, and which were great. Also, where to get free meals, and that’s when I heard the review of St Ds.
St. Dunstan’s Community Dinner Gets 5 Stars! A couple of guys chimed in and the consensus was St Ds was the place to be! The main point was our buffet style of serving―big hit! AND, the dessert table was a favorite.
All these young men struck me as intelligent and were very respectful, willing to help the next morning with clean up and putting up. We provided some with sleeping bags and blankets. If they were coming back, we let them leave the sleeping bags and blankets at the shelter. They get to keep those. Some welcomed the dry clothes and clean socks. All were very grateful to be inside.
At 1:15am, two Shoreline police officers brought a young guy, soaking wet and shivering. I offered dry clothes, but he dove into the sleeping bag and I covered him with an additional blanket. He did not move until about 5am. Seriously, I was thinking about taking his pulse when I saw him shift. He may have been high. No questions asked.
The shelter is run by the North Urban Human Services Alliance. They offered a training session last fall that was excellent. These folks know how to do this. We got intake, bio-hazard clean-up and de-escalation training. They required CPR certification and I also took the Stop the Bleed Class. They required that all volunteers have Hepatitis B vaccine shots and offered them for free if you didn’t already have them.
During the training, the question was asked, “What if they are high or drunk?”
Answer: “Those are the ones that most need shelter, they are the most vulnerable.”
I was deeply moved by that level of compassion by folks who had worked in shelters for many years. I am on duty again tonight, and looking forward to it!