New location for Out of the Cold may mean less beds, becoming 'warming shelter' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New location for Out of the Cold may mean less beds, becoming 'warming shelter'

Out of the Cold shelter offers homeless people in Kamloops a warm place to sleep twice a week in the winter, but this year may see big operational changes.
December 24, 2019 - 3:00 PM

A new location for a Kamloops homeless shelter could mean some big operational changes impacting the people who rely on the service.

Lena Cimmarrusti took on the role of executive director for Out of the Cold Kamloops on Nov. 1  and had to get to work looking for a new location. Now, she says the shelter will operate out of the Canadian Mental Health Association's Kamloops branch at 857 Seymour Street, but she says operations may look quite different than in previous years.

“If anything, there will be fewer (beds). One of the things we’re waiting on is for the capacity we’ll be allowed to house,” Cimmarrusti says. "It's possible we’ll have very few beds and it will end up being more of a warming shelter, but we’re going to get in as many people as we can.”

Cimmarrusti says she has some red tape to cut before the shelter can open, but she hopes to welcome guests as soon as possible in the new year.

“There’s still some paperwork with the City, so we’re not sure exactly when but we’re hoping for the first Wednesday in January, but because of the holidays it has kind of interrupted the flow of the red tape,” Cimmarrusti says.

Out of the Cold was previously run out of the basement of St. Paul’s Cathedral, but had to find a new location for this year. Although Cimmarrusti is happy about the new partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, she’s unsure if Out of the Cold and the summer program Out of the Heat will operate out of the building.

Despite the uncertainties, Cimmarrusti says it is a great location that meets all of their requirements and is located in a place where people won’t mind a shelter.

“It’s actually a very nice, welcoming space for our guests,” Cimmarrusti says. “It’s got the kitchen we needed, it’s got the bathroom we needed, it’s a nice big open space so it’s actually just about perfect, and I think the location is good, too.”

Cimmarrusti looks forward to working out all of the details and welcoming volunteers, guests and paid staff for every Wednesday and Sunday night for the winter. She says she is looking to hire a paid overnight staff member in addition to two other workers, who will oversee shelter operations and are caring and empathetic towards homeless people.

In addition to a new staff member, Cimmarrusti is looking for people to volunteer and help with organizational tasks, cooking, grant writing, fundraising and more.

“Our volunteers do a lot of the heavy lifting for us,” Cimmarrusti says. “We need people to help with kitchen prep, cleanup and actually staying overnight with the guests. We hopefully will have a couple of paid staff there with some training, but it’s nice to have volunteers to socialize and supervise the guests.”

Another roadblock Cimmarrusti is facing is the need to feed the guests for the month of January. She says usually the Pit Stop program prepares meals for the shelter, but they are unable to do so during the first month of the year. She is looking for folks who are willing to prepare soup, stew, or other meals that can be fed to around 60 people.

People interested in helping with Out of the Cold are welcomed to a volunteer information session at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Dec. 28 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, you can contact Cimmarrusti at 250-299-6699.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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