Even though Estevan area residents are basking in the heat of August, the organizers of the Warm Welcome shelter are getting ready for this upcoming winter.
Lieutenant Brian Bobolo from the Estevan Salvation Army was at the August 14 meeting of Estevan City Council to promote the shelter's accomplishments during the past year, and to ask for the City's support for the upcoming winter.
Warm Welcome's shelters will be set up at St. Paul's United Church and the Estevan Salvation Army this year. In its first winter in 2012-13, Warm Welcome's intake centre was at the Salvation Army, and the shelter was at St. Paul's auditorium.
Council has granted permission for Warm Welcome's tenants to use the showers at the Souris Valley Aquatic and Leisure Centre free of charge. The City and Council members will also refer homeless people to Warm Welcome's buildings.
A shelter like Warm Welcome reduces the demand on the health care system, Bobolo said, as homeless people are able to have a place to stay and get a good meal. It also makes the jobs of Estevan Police Service members a little easier.
The existence of such a shelter reflects the success of Estevan, rather than exposes its shortcomings, he said.
Warm Welcome's first year ran from December 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, and it was open from Thursday to Sunday. A little more than 200 people stayed at the shelter during that time, which equated to about three people a night. The busiest night saw about half a dozen people use its services.
Bobolo estimated that Warm Welcome supplied about $15,000 in shelter services and about $2,000 in food to tenants during its first year.
This winter, the shelters will be open seven nights per week. Bobolo said that will allow Warm Welcome to provide better service and to be available to more people.
He anticipates that Warm Welcome will have at least five or six guests each night in 2013-14.