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Cold weather emphasizing need for shelters’ support in Charlottesville

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 6:38 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Freezing temperatures are emphasizing the need for shelter, especially for those without it.

PACEM opened their hypothermia shelter in early November for overnight shelter and The Haven offers shelter during the day. Both have COVID-19 policies in place to keep their guests safe.

“We’ve taken some pretty significant measures during the pandemic to guard the safety of everyone,” PACEM Executive Director Jayson Whitehead said.

PACEM is mass sanitizing, doing temperature checks, and has HEPA filters.

“We do not have a vaccine requirement. Thankfully, we do have pretty thorough effort in our area to get everyone vaccinated,” Whitehead said.

The Haven requires masks, but not vaccines.

“We do host a COVID clinic every Monday from 8 to 9 where guests and employees can get vaccinated, booster shots, and get testing. We’re doing regular cleanings and we’re just encouraging people to social distance while they’re here,” Schyler Wiecek, a day shift shelter supervisor with The Haven, said.

“The solutions are never what anyone would choose, but to make sure that when you’re hosted by churches it’s warm and welcome, I think that we achieve the ability not to feel institutional,” PACEM volunteer Elizabeth Breeden said.

With temperatures dropping PACEM’s hypothermia shelter is now open. “The hypothermia version of shelter is our traditional shelter which is one we’ve been offering since 2004,” Whitehead said.

The Haven says the cold weather has brought more guests to their doors.

“We’ve been seeing an increase in numbers of check ins in the morning time. Every morning we do breakfast at 7:30 and it’s been really busy,” Wiecek said. “I’m sure it’s really hard to sleep in the evening when it’s 20 degrees. So we want this to be a nice relaxing spot that’s warm and comfortable for people during the daytime.”

“PACEM’s original mission was to make sure that no one in Charlottesville froze on the streets,” Breeden said.

The Haven is accepting cold weather clothing donations. If you have extra to give you can give them a call at (434) 973-1234.

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