Church warms homeless on Fridays

Trinity Episcopal Church has begun operating as a daytime warming center on Fridays — providing a brief reprieve for homeless people who had dubbed that day of the week fend-for-yourself-Friday in Ashland.

Located in downtown Ashland at 44 N. Second St., the church began inviting homeless people to come in for warmth from 10 a.m. until noon on Fridays earlier this month.

The Ashland Public Library is closed on Fridays, and no overnight shelters are open on Friday nights.

Trinity offers overnight shelter on Wednesdays, while First Presbyterian Church of Ashland hosts an overnight shelter on Mondays.

Volunteers staff overnight shelters in a city building — usually Pioneer Hall near Lithia Park — on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

So far, five to eight people usually visit the church during warming hours on Fridays, said Trinity office manager Robin Weiss.

"Usually they just fall asleep. They're just exhausted," Weiss said.

Weiss said two people are on hand at the church to open the doors and offer assistance.

Homeless people said on nights when there are no open shelters in Ashland, they resort to sleeping in their vehicles if they have them, finding cover in the forested hills above town, walking all night to stay warm or other tactics.

"I've woken up with icicles in my hair and my feet frozen," said Colt Thurber, a young homeless man who has been in Ashland for about two months. "The freezing fog will get you because you get moist. Some nights I have to keep moving. If I stop, I'm at risk of hypothermia."

Residents who would like to help out at the overnight shelters in Ashland can attend volunteer training from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Ashland Fire & Rescue Station No. 1, located across from the library at the convergence of East Main Street, Siskiyou Boulevard and Lithia Way.

Volunteers are also needed for the annual Point-In-Time homeless count, which occurs nationally.

The count will take place from Jan. 24-31 in Ashland.

Trinity will host Point-In-Time volunteer training at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Ashland City Councilor Carol Voisin said getting a complete, accurate count of homeless children and adults is critical.

The count helps determine how much federal and state funding Jackson County and social service agencies receive to help homeless people, she said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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