Volunteers needed to staff shelters

More volunteers are needed to staff homeless shelters that are set up in Ashland churches and city buildings four nights per week.

Ashland Fire & Rescue Station No. 1 will host shelter volunteer training from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8.

The station is across the street from the Ashland library at the confluence of Siskiyou Boulevard, Main Street and Lithia Way.

The training is geared toward members of Ashland's Community Emergency Response Team, but all community members who are interested in volunteering are welcome, said Barbie Breneiser, shelter facilitator for the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland.

"We could always use more volunteers, especially since we're adding another night," she said.

In December, the Ashland City Council voted to offer a city building for shelter on Tuesday nights through April.

Breneiser said the Tuesday night shelter will begin on Jan. 14.

The city already had been offering a city building as a shelter on Thursday nights.

The First Presbyterian Church of Ashland serves as an overnight shelter on Monday nights and the Trinity Episcopal Church offers overnight shelter on Wednesdays.

Trinity serves as a daytime warming center from 10 a.m. until noon on Fridays. The church began offering that service in December.

Ashland also has provisions to open a building for emergency shelter any night of the week when the temperature drops to 20 degrees or below.

Members of local congregations and organizations, as well as other community members, volunteer to staff the various shelter locations.

Breneiser said at least two volunteers stay overnight on shelter nights.

Organizers try to have a man and a woman staff a shelter, and inexperienced volunteers always are paired with experienced volunteers, she said.

Volunteers who aren't able to spend the night can still help out, she noted.

People often donate food to the homeless on shelter nights, and volunteers can help distribute food and clean up afterward, Breneiser said.

"Our biggest need is for volunteers who are willing to stay overnight," she said. "We need people who are willing to sleep on the floor."

Homeless people who use the shelters usually spread out on the floor with their blankets and sleeping bags, along with the volunteers.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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