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Snow blankets Kansas City. Photo: Wikimedia. Public Domain

Area ministries sheltering homeless from arctic blast

As arctic temps pour into the region, area ministries serving the homeless are responding with compassion.

Kansas City currently has numerous shelters open and the city voted in the fall to fund additional staff and resources but with temperatures hitting -10 this weekend, it’s not enough.

Kansas City Homeless Prevention Coordinator Josh Henges says eight shelters are working together to meet this need.

“So far, we’ve seen 977 unique individuals, which represents about three times more unique individuals being served this season, as opposed to last season,” Henges said.

The area’s faith-based shelters typically house more individuals and families than the city. Those shelters include City Union Mission, Hope Faith Ministries, Kansas City Rescue Mission, Shelter KC Women’s Center, and the Salvation Army.

In total, there’s still capacity for just over 450 individuals with an estimated 2,000 homeless vulnerable to the frigid cold.

For ministries like City Union Mission, staff and added volunteers will provide additional services and resources to men, women and families who are arriving to avoid the deadly temperatures.

“The homeless simply shouldn’t have to survive outside this time of year,” stated Chief Executive Officer Dr. Terry Megli, “Warm clothes, nutritious meals, and a safe place to sleep are all most people need to avert danger.”

“Typically Kansas City has somewhere between 750 to 800 homeless that are out on the streets… we’re always here seven days a week, but the demand of homelessness has increased in Kansas City.”

The Mission’s Men’s Center (1108 E 10th St.) current overnight guests will be able to stay within the center which is at capacity. New walk-ups not seeking overnight shelter will be given a list of options for a place to stay.  The Women and Family Center (1310 Wabash) will allow current overnight guests to also remain in the center.   Walk-ups are being assigned a bed, as available.  As the shelters reach capacity, capacity, emergency beds are being activated.

Once the Men’s and Women and Family Center capacity is met, the Mission will provide a list of warming centers around the KC area that will include addresses and the times of operation.

At Shelter KC, part of the ministry of Kansas City Rescue Mission, space is already running out.

“We’ve repurposed every space we can,” said Hope Faith Executive Director Doug Langner. “We have partners already on campus ready to take people to their place.”

Most of Shelter KC’s shelters are open only in the morning and afternoon but they are all switching to overnight facilities for the duration.

“When it’s a cold snap like this, it feels like there’s never enough beds and that’s probably going to be the reality, which is why these non-profits in every way they can, they’re going to say yes,” Henges told Fox4 News. “They’re going to reconfigure hallway space if they have to because it’s about saving life and limb.”

Megli invites the community to help the Mission care for the homeless throughout the winter months, and they can do so in several different ways.  “Donations of peanut butter, canned pears or peaches, canned green beans, and also toilet paper and new or gently used bath towels are always appreciated to help us care for our guests and provide them with balanced and nutritious meals,” he said.

If you would like to help Shelter KC financially, you can do so HERE.

Monetary gifts are also needed to help cover the costs of the Mission’s utility bills, which increase as the weather grows colder and the number of guests rises. The Mission is currently behind in its fundraising goal to meet increasing needs for the year.

Donations to the Mission can be made online at cityunionmission.org. Lists of urgent needs, volunteer opportunities and information on their year-round programs and services can also be found on the Mission’s website.

For information provided by the city and how you can help visit HERE.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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