There’s no doubt it’s been colder than normal. Even for the middle of December.
But luckily, most of us can escape the cold, into our heated offices, cars or homes.
But what about those out there who can’t escape the cold — who have no warm office, car or home?
Temperatures, which have dipped into the teens in some places in Kitsap County, aren’t survivable without some place to get warm. Luckily, Bremerton can offer warmth to some via the severe weather shelter at the Bremerton Foodline food bank.
The shelter is open when the temperatures drop below freezing — 32 degrees — for more than four hours straight based on temperatures at five evaluation sites in the area.
The shelter for men, women and children, is activated by the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management and has held from 10 to 20 guests each night that it’s been open so far this month.
At maximum, it has held 24, although organizers try hard not to turn anyone away. That may mean folks sleeping in very cramped quarters, including available space in the hallways.
Volunteers run the shelter and offer a light meal for those who come in from the cold. The local Red Cross supplies the cots and pads, bedrolls, blankets and pillows are given out by food bank volunteers as guests arrive.
This shelter is the perfect mix of government and nonprofits working together to aid those in need.
As Bremerton Foodline Executive Director Patti Peterson put it, “We have lots of other help and we couldn’t put this together ourselves. This is really the community coming together to make this happen.”
The other night as I was driving home, I passed a Kitsap Transit bus and its message read “Severe Weather Shelter Open.” I felt guilty for having complained earlier in the day about how I thought my car’s heater was going out. I have no idea what it must be like to be homeless and cold and have nowhere to go.
Because of the planning and hard work, the homeless who need to escape the cold have an answer. As residents of Kitsap County, we need to support this severe weather shelter.
And we need to do what we can through the Department of Emergency Management to increase awareness that the shelters are available and see that more shelters are open in other areas of the county, including Silverdale.
We need to make sure that we provide a warm and safe place for homeless people in Kitsap County.
We need to fully meet the demand when cold weather sets in.