The November weather has been cooler than usual and the EUUC Cold Weather Coordinator is watching the weather reports. If it drops another degree, the shelter will open and Walt Leberg will send out an email alert to the EUUC team that they are being called into action. Christine MacDonald is the food boss and she responds with her volunteer crew to get an evening hot meal organized as well as a breakfast. Because of COVID protocols, Christine uses her own kitchen to prepare food that will be delivered by her stalwart partner Gary McCaig to Maple Park Church where the shelter is located.
By 6:15, the team is onsite and getting organized by Lamar Scott. The shelter equipment is moved from the storage trailer to the rec hall. Mats are set out with blankets. Someone makes the coffee and the kitchen is set up to distribute the food. By seven the first van load of guests arrives. A specially trained volunteer from another organization meets the guests at the door where they are interviewed to ensure they meet the basic expectations of the shelter. The first guests are getting settled as two more van loads arrive and go through the orienting process. Meanwhile, tables are being setup for the evening meal. At last dinner is served. As dinner winds down, tables are wiped and guests might help. Through out all of this, social distancing and masks are being used to protect volunteers and guests alike. Our evening volunteers depart and paid staff assumes night duties.
Morning starts early. Volunteers arrive at 5:30 to get the coffee started and lay out the breakfast. After a quick meal, guests and volunteers clean up and move mats to the trailer and collect blankets for laundering. The van arrives to return the guests to their preferred drop-off place. The whole operation must be completed by 7 am.
An EUUC volunteer might be on call for certain months or weeks. Some people volunteer both morning and evening. Ross Henderson and Nick Aldrich are two consistent volunteers. Ross says he’s thought a lot about why he serves in this way. He says, “Some people might want to judge why a person is in this position, but for me, I really don’t care. If it’s a cold night, they’re not going to sleep outside on my watch.”