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Bucks County Nonprofits Prepare For Code Blue Season As Temperatures Drop

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Because the Advocates for the Homeless of Higher Bucks ready to host its first shelter evening of the Code Blue season, they shared a climate replace on Fb.

“Our temperatures (will) flip cooler and windier with our low temps Friday proper on the 26-degree Code Blue threshold,” the Nov. 17 submit learn. Two days prior, the nonprofit kicked off its ninth yr of sheltering Quakertown’s homeless group from the brutal chilly. The season will now run by way of April 15.

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A room at the Code Blue Shelter located in Quakertown Masonic Lodge in Quakertown as seen on Monday, Nov. 22. Guests at the shelter have their own space separated due to the pandemic precautions.

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It’s the time of yr when, as the temperatures hit 26 levels Fahrenheit or under, together with wind chill, the group and two different designated Code Blue shelters in Central and Decrease Bucks prepare to open their doorways to these needing a spot to remain.

An opportunity of extreme precipitation, like sleet, rain or snow, can also be an element.

AHUB hosted a complete of seven individuals on the Quakertown Masonic Lodge throughout its first two Code Blue nights of the season. The group sees a median of 30 to 50 individuals coming in every year, in keeping with its chairman, Pastor Dave Heckler.

Chairman of Advocates for the Homeless of Upper Bucks David Heckler poses for a portrait at the Code Blue Shelter located in Quakertown Masonic Lodge in Quakertown on Monday, Nov. 22.

For these neglected within the chilly as the mercury drops, the bone-chilling temperatures might make a life-and-death distinction.

“We ourselves had seen of us within the lifeless of winter strolling from Quakertown, downward 309, to Souderton to (take a bus) to Lansdale, the place Trinity Lutheran Church was working a Code Blue shelter,” Heckler recalled about their preliminary resolution to open their very own shelter.

“As a ministerium, we have been like, ‘we wouldn’t stroll 309 at excessive midday in the midst of the summer time, a lot much less at evening within the lifeless of winter looking for shelter,’” he mentioned. “‘We have to do one thing.’”

Guest bins at the Code Blue Shelter located in Quakertown Masonic Lodge in Quakertown hold blankets, towels and other items for the shelter's guests, as seen on Monday, Nov. 22. Site coordinator David Heckler says having thier own bins helps the guests feel at home.

And with out these three shelters working throughout late fall, winter and early spring, Bucks County’s most susceptible are left with restricted choices.

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File - Karen McKinney, of Bristol Township, donations coordinator at AHTN, at the Calvary Baptist Church in Bristol, bags new bedding for guests staying over night at the Code Blue shelter, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.

“The emergency shelter is full with many months of individuals on the waitlist, so there’d be no place for them to go,” mentioned Karen Mineo, managing guide for Decrease Bucks-based Advocates for Homeless and These in Want, of the year-round Bucks County Emergency Shelter in Bristol Township.

The Advocates for Homeless Code Blue season, which the nonprofit has participated in for 13 years, begins Dec. 3 and runs by way of late March. AHTN serves individuals residing in Bristol, Bensalem, Fairless Hills, Levittown Morrisville, Penndel, Yardley and Newtown.

If the group is ready to get no less than 18 volunteers, it may well open up a Code Blue shelter for the evening. 

Volunteer nametags hang on the wall in the break room at the Code Blue Shelter located in Quakertown Masonic Lodge in Quakertown on Monday, Nov. 22.

AHTN will arrange store in Yardley’s Woodside Church for two months beginning subsequent week with COVID-19 precautions nonetheless in impact after they host their visitors. The shelter relocates to Calvary Baptist Church in Bristol for February and March.

Outdoors of working the shelters, volunteer drivers decide up members of the homeless group at 4 designated bus stops close to recognized outdoors encampments, Mineo mentioned. 

“Once we’re down in Calvary, it is simpler for our homeless buddies to stroll as a result of there are two massive encampments in Bristol, so final yr, we did not really want to do a variety of transportation as a result of they have been so near the shelter,” she mentioned.

“This yr, being in Yardley for two months, it is going to be a little bit difficult, however our AHTN drivers rise to the event, and we’ll make it work.” 

The Coalition to Shelter and Help the Homeless, a nonprofit that serves Central Bucks, begins its Code Blue season on Dec. 1, and it runs by way of March.

Every month, CSSH will transfer its Code Blue shelter to a distinct church — Neshaminy Warwick Presbyterian Church subsequent month, Our Woman of Guadalupe Catholic Church in January, Doylestown Presbyterian Church in February and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church for March.

The entrance of the Code Blue Shelter located in Quakertown Masonic Lodge in Quakertown as seen on Monday, Nov. 22. The shelter is decorated intentionally to give the warm and welcoming feeling of home to its guests.

With many individuals arriving with little greater than a backpack, the nonprofit supplies them garments like thermal underwear, sweatpants and sweatshirts and boots. 

“They arrive in with nothing,” mentioned Mae O’Brien, CSSH’s govt director. “They threw every thing out from the yr earlier than as a result of they can not retailer it.”

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Just like the Code Blue shelters in Higher and Decrease Bucks, CSSH, which wants 14 individuals to run a shelter every evening, could have meals and a heat place to sleep in a single day for these in want.

“Two of the amenities, and Doylestown Presbyterian is one among them, have showers so individuals can have a bathe, and we additionally present breakfast and a bag lunch for individuals to take as they go away,” O’Brien mentioned.

O’Brien, who just lately joined the group, says COVID-19 stays a priority as they prepare to open their doorways.

They’ll be arranging beds so individuals can sleep head to toe with six toes of distance in between to reduce individuals respiratory on one another, she mentioned.

“Everybody has PPE and everybody within the shelter, besides after they’re consuming and together with volunteers, should put on a masks,” she mentioned. “It is essential to us that the individuals who keep on the shelter and our volunteers are secure, and we bend over backwards to make it possible for every thing is as clear as it ought to be.”

On prime of continued COVID protocols, there’s the opportunity of a very chilly winter forward.

Reflecting on previous seasons, Heckler mentioned his ministry might be ready as they brace themselves. Some earlier months, he mentioned, have been “simply brutal.”

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“Final February, we have been open 22 out of 28 nights in February, and again in 2017-2018, we have been open 98 nights over the season out of 152,” Heckler mentioned. “By the top of that season, we have been all simply exhausted, simply completely exhausted.”

The pastor says if it does transform an exceptionally chilly few months, the nice and cozy and constant house on the Masonic Lodge, together with a devoted group of volunteers, will assist them make it work.

“Definitely, if that is going to be an awfully chilly season, we might use extra volunteers,” he mentioned.

To satisfy AHTN’s want for volunteers this season, it’s internet hosting an in-person orientation at Woodside Church Dec. 5 in hopes of recruiting new helpers.

Mineo says final yr, when the vaccine wasn’t but accessible, they’d a troublesome time protecting volunteers as a result of many are older and had underlying well being considerations.

“It’s robust, (however) we have by no means needed to not open as a result of we did not have sufficient volunteers, I feel that is occurred as soon as within the final six years that I have been right here,” Mineo mentioned.

“If it is colder and we’re open extra, we’ll simply carry on working with our volunteers, attempt to recruit new volunteers and hope that we will open,” she mentioned.

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