In the early fall of 2019 we determined that we could no longer close our doors to people living outside during extreme weather. We reached out to the City to try to find a solution to the restriction of having people in the building overnight. Thanks to creative Board members and City officials we were approved to extend our already existing services, not as a shelter but an overnight warming center.
We made a presentation to the City of Biddeford offering to run the program but needing their funding support. It was approved, and in mid-January we opened from 8 pm – 8 am on nights where the temperatures were 20 degrees or lower. We hired a contract staff person and an outside Security agency to provide for the comfort and safety of those who used the service. We also trained community members who supported the efforts. We served simple soups or other warm food and snacks. The response from those who live outside, and the cities of Biddeford and Saco, were tremendous. Usage ranged from 3 to 11 participants.
We have just finished our second winter of operating our Overnight Warming Center. We were open 53 nights between December 1 2020 and March 15, serving between one and 8 people each night.