November 15, 2013 - 9:50 AM
PENTICTON - There's been a lot of sleepless nights for Salvation Army supervisor Reg Petrie whenever the weather turns cold.
"Sometimes I stare at the ceiling, worrying about so-and-so and so-and-so," Petrie said. He looks after two shelters, Cheers the Church and Compass House that also serve as cold weather emergency locations for people trying to escape winter's wrath.
"My wife would probably attest to what I'm saying," he said, standing in the shelter's back yard and patio area. "Every night at 3 a.m. I seem to wake up and can't go to sleep. It just goes around and around."
He worries not only about people on the street but also how the shelter is doing and if the staff, which he said are excellent, are doing OK.
"Because if they are not happy and running in a good way it hurts everybody," he said.
During the warmer months Compass House is a high-barrier rest stop for those who need a place to stay. Petrie said the shelter isn't a "flop house" and guests need to be drug and alcohol-free for at least 24 hours before being allowed in. The rules are modified when it comes to extreme weather conditions.
Petrie checks the weather at 9 a.m. and if the forecast is for a chilly night, posters will go up at soup kitchens to let people know where they can go to escape the cold, either at Cheers The Church or at Compass House if the church is full and the house has room. Cheers can have 20 people and the house can have 12. Guests can shower, wash their clothes, watch television and have some food. When morning comes free jackets, gloves and scarves are available to take.
The two locations will take anyone in need. Some people might have lost their homes and/or their jobs and are living out of their car. They are welcome at Cheers or at Compass House and can ask for a bed to sleep in at night.
"Nobody wants to be here but they are happy when they are," Petrie said.
Unfortunately, if either place is full people can be turned away. The supervisor said spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013