Our local Community has always been so generous and so very involved in making sure those among us with the least get something. This year after 6 years, unfortunately COVID-19 has the upper hand. There is no way we can safely provide enclosed (indoor) shared, sleeping spaces to people without risking both our homeless guests and the staff who work at the Shelter. We will not be operating the Shelter this year. This decision was not made lightly and was made in conjunction with Public Health professionals at the County level to explore every option. Especially after the late November numbers of COVID-19 started sky-rocketing, we cannot take the chance of becoming a super-spreader.
Our partner in this endeavor (indeed the people who provide the funding, staffing, supervision and who have worked so diligently with the County health folks to try and make an opening for this season work) Building Futures with Women & Children has used the funding allocated for the Warming Shelter to ramp up mobile homeless outreach. This was done in concert with Alameda County Health and while we will not have the Warming Shelter, the outreach workers will be providing hot meals 5 days a week in San Leandro to keep our homeless folks engaged as well as warmer and less hungry. Our Outreach Workers will also have the ability to provide support items to those who need them – these items include tarps, tents, sleeping bags, jackets, hats, gloves and solar phone chargers. Other items will be on a case-by-case basis. The outreach workers will continue to engage people with specific efforts going to ensure those who want to be placed in housing are help to readiness and those who do not wish to enter housing are heard and know that when they are ready, someone will be there to help get them housed.
The weekly laundry program will also continue and is yet another outreach opportunity now with lunch provided! BFWC outreach workers are at the laundromat on the corner of Marina Blvd. and Washington Ave. from 11:30 am until 2:00 pm on Wednesday’s each week.
IHN/April Showers – Warming Shelter 2020/2021 Season
San Leandro Warming Shelter usually opens for the season, the day after Thanksgiving and is targeted to close around April 1 of each year. The service is held at 1600 Bancroft Ave. (First United Methodist Church) San Leandro, CA 94577. Pre-registration is necessary (see below, please). The San Leandro Warming Shelter is a joint venture between Building Futures with Women and Children, the City of San Leandro and April Showers volunteers. The purpose of the program is to provide shelter for the homeless men and women in our local area during times of inclement weather.
The Shelter is open at least one night a week in an effort to maintain continuity with our guests throughout the winter season. The criteria for opening the Shelter on other nights is that there is a 50% or greater forecasted chance of rain during the night time hours and/or the temperature is forecasted to be 40 degrees or lower during the night.
The Shelter requires that prospective guests pre-register with the Outreach Staff either at an April Showers event (1st, 3rd or 5th Sunday of each month) or at the St. Vincent de Paul Brown Bag Lunch program at The Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church (1395 Bancroft Ave. San Leandro). Once registered, guests are given the phone number to check and see if the Center is opening on a given day. That phone number is: 510.924.3787. A recording will provide the weekly schedule and it is updated when the schedule changes. Personal contact can be made at an April Showers event.
Services provided by the Shelter include a hot dinner, a warm space to place a temporary bed on the floor, a Relief Bed (therma-rest type of mat covered by a yoga mat, and fleece sleeping bag), a chance to visit with friends, watch movies on TV, receive referrals if requested and leave in the morning with some type of breakfast. There are always two paid Staff on each of two shifts (4:00 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 8:00 a.m.) to supervise and make sure peace reigns during the night.
The Shelter also provides an opportunity for the Outreach Staff to connect with those homeless in the area who might qualify for services and help them obtain these services. This includes access to medical care, mental health care, referrals to various forms of financial and food aid as well as a potential connection with housing. The need is great, the resources are few and the paperwork daunting!
When a guest arrives and checks in for the night at the Warming Shelter, they are greeted and given access to their own “sleeping kit”. The kit is theirs for the entire season and is stored at the Shelter. It consists of a large net bag (on which they put their name), a fleece sleeping bag, Relief bed pad, a yoga mat if they wish and sleeping clothes if guests wish to keep them with their bag. Keeping all the sleeping gear where people sleep allows folks to have access to the gear without fear of losing it on the street or having the task of carrying it around with them during the day.
Funding for this venture is provided by and through the City of San Leandro (Thank you Mayor Cutter and Jeanette Dong for being always at our side). Staffing is provided by Building Futures with Women and Children. Food is provided by volunteers – many of them from April Showers. Guests are told of the services and “recruited” mostly through contact with April Showers, the Outreach Team at Building Futures or the SLPD Street Outreach Team.
The Bethel Community Food Pantry donates food items which can easily translate into breakfast for our guests. A volunteer “group” of more than 50 people work together to make sure that every night the Shelter is open, a healthy, hearty, hot meal is served family style to whomever appears to eat and sleep.
While funding has been stitched together by the City and Building Futures, it covers the “bare-bones” operating costs. Extras, such as dry sweat clothes and socks for guests to sleep in come from donations and fund-raisers held by our Community partners and generous supporters. Extras above and beyond come from the help and support of our local patrons throughout the community who have so generously supported the homeless and marginalized in San Leandro. In addition to the socks/sweats, “extra” donations help provide things which eat into our operating budget like paper goods, cleaning supplies and “feeding” supplies. Although they are part of running the Shelter, when we get hit with a large call for service, funds always run tight. Last Season, (November 2015 to April 2016) the Shelter was open for 55 nights (we had a nearly dry spell in February), provided service to 71 individual (unduplicated) guests, provided 833 “bed nights” (number of nights open X the number of guests at the Shelter) and fed everyone along the way. .
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