Shelter houses 20 guests over the weekend

Ashland's emergency shelter will stay open tonight and Tuesday night as forecasts call for temperatures to drop to the teens in the wake of the season's first snow storm.

The cold-weather shelter has housed about 20 guests since it was opened Friday night, when the arctic storm hit, said Lucy Edwards, program coordination for the Community Emergency Response Team, which operates the shelter along with three Ashland churches.

Friday seven guests were warming and drying their boots by the fire at the Ashland First Congregational United Church of Christ, where the shelter was held that night.

"I'm glad we found a sign telling us about this place," said Anaka Smith, 19, who stayed with friend Carina Noah, 20, and Noah's 19-month-old daughter. "We said, alright we'll stay there because it's warm and free."

Plans to stay at a friend's house fell through for the women and baby, who are in the process of moving to Ashland, and they didn't have anywhere else to go to get out of the snow and frigid temperatures, Noah said, adding that she, her daughter and Anaka planned to stay at the shelter Saturday night as well.

"It's nice to have a place like this where people can go," she said, watching her daughter, Samadhi, play on the sleeping bags spread out on the floor.

Lucy Edwards, program coordination for the Community Emergency Response Team, which operates the shelter along with three Ashland churches, was walking her dog Friday when driving rain began turning to sleet and she decided to come open the shelter early, she said.

"It's the kind of weather that could be life-threatening if you don't have shelter," Edwards said. "We have a resident population without traditional housing who would otherwise be couch-surfing or in a tent or tree trying to stay warm. It's just one of those places where it's easy enough to open the door."

Subsequent nights the "no frills" shelter was at First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, on the corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and Walker Avenue, where it will also be tonight and Tuesday night.

Anyone who needs a warm place to sleep can check into the shelter beginning at 8 p.m. Shelter doors are locked at 9 p.m., after which people may leave, but not return the same night. The shelter closes during the day, so guests must pack up by 7:30 a.m.

Those planning to sleep at the church should bring their own bedding if they can. A limited number of sleeping bags are available to use. Shelter volunteers will lock up guest's personal valuables overnight and people will sleep on the floor in a large multipurpose room.

The shelter may open for additional nights, depending on weather conditions, organizers said. Ashlanders can call 552-2378, the CERT hotline, or log on to to check if the shelter will be open. Notices will also be placed at a few locations in town such as Shop 'n Kart and Evo's Coffee Lounge.

Staff Writer Hannah Guzik can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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