It was getting cold out there, at least. Then the temps crept back into the 70s and it feels like spring. Or dead of winter in Texas.
As the cold, at least, approaches, I’m thinking about the many residents of our community who are without overnight shelter. I’ve become more active this year with Interfaith Action of Evanston (IAE), specifically with its Advocacy Committee. More on that in the last paragraph below.
Currently, the IAE emergency overnight cold weather shelter opens its doors when the temperature drops to five degrees, not counting wind chill. For years St. Paul’s down the street on Greenwood has been shouldering this burden for our community. We can do more in a couple of ways.
First, St. Paul’s can’t do it alone. We need volunteers.
Second, as a community we need to think about the temperature guideline. Five degrees is life-threatening, but it’s awfully cold at ten. I’d hate to be on the street in an emergency when it’s below freezing. Right now there are initiatives in the works to address this deficiency. Ideas range from creating a year-round emergency shelter to raising the temperature guidelines. Both of these are going to take more volunteer support.
The UCE Board and staff have also begun talking about opening UCE’s doors to assist. Beth Emet, across the street, is also willing to open its doors when the cold weather becomes deathly cold. If this happens, we need UCE volunteers to be trained.
Luckily, IAE is recruiting volunteers right now to learn the ropes. There is a system in place to assemble cots, prepare sheets for its laundry service, and greet and welcome guests. It’s an opportunity to be engaged with the community and to hear the amazing stories that shelter guests bring in from the cold.
The training is going to be held Thursday, 11/12 from 7:00-8:00 pm, or Monday, 11/16, from 7:00-8:00 pm. The location is St. Paul’s at 1004 Greenwood. If you want to know the requirements, please contact me by clicking on the link above (or, if you’re reading this in PDF form, go to www.liberalfaith.org).
Regarding advocacy for housing rights in Evanston, the Evanston City Council has the inclusionary housing amendments on the agenda for consideration on Monday, November 9, 2015. The meeting starts immediately after the Planning and Development Commission, about 7:30. I was there last week as we pushed the amendment through, but will be out of town next week. It would be wonderful to have a sea of people wearing “yellow Love shirts” in attendance to remind the council of how important this is for Evanston.