PENINSULA — Overnight Winter Lodging (OWL) is preparing to launch the second season of the shelter serving Peninsula residents who are experiencing homelessness. The doors will open Nov. 1, providing emergency shelter seven nights a week. The season will expand from two months to four and a half months, requiring an increase of volunteers from the community. The program is operated and staffed by unpaid volunteers.
This year, two additional local churches have opened their doors to house OWL. The shelter changes locations, rotating between Peninsula Church of the Nazarene, Peninsula Church Center, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and newcomers: New Life Assembly of God and the Chinook Lutheran Church.
The immediate goal of the program is to provide a warm, safe, dry place to sleep, and something to eat. However, by partnering with local social service agencies, the program provides a more long-term solution to accessing permanent housing and other needed services.
The initial OWL shelter began in 2016 and operated during the months of January and February. During that short time, the shelter served 27 men and women, who represent a fraction of the homeless population present on the Long Beach Peninsula. The “Point in Time” study completed for Pacific County identified about 150 homeless individuals, including children. The majority of these were in the Peninsula area.
Support from the community is urgently needed, OWL organizers say.
Volunteers are an essential part of this project. Most volunteers commit to one or two shifts per week. Training is provided for all volunteers. The next scheduled training is Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Seaview. A volunteer does not need to be affiliated with any of the churches involved. The primary requirement is to care.
Organizers also invite restaurants to offer a taurine of soup once a week that can be served to OWL guests.
Information and/or volunteer applications are available at: www.penninsulapovertyresponse.org, email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone at 501-777-5244, or visiting the Overnight Winter Lodging Facebook page.