As winter draws to a close, so does the Community Warming Center for the 2015-16 season. The Community Warming Center has been cleaned and doors have been closed for conclusion of its second year.
Dee Olsen, Executive Director of the Merrill Area United Way stated, “Again this year, we filled a need for some people who didn’t have an option for safe, secure, warm quarters during the cold nights. The season went smoothly and was successful in that the facility was utilized about 85% of the entire time.” Additionally, she noted, “The real success came from the Merrill people; the estimated 35 volunteers who staffed the facility and Barb Ziemer who served as the volunteer coordinator.”
The Community Warming Center was an outgrowth of the Lincoln County Homelessness Task Force and a Community Warming Center Sub-Committee and organized under the Merrill Area United Way. Barb Ziemer, the Community Warming Center Volunteer Coordinator, was vigilant in ensuring that volunteers were on board to staff the three shifts per night. On April 9, United Way hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Coffee and Input Session. The Volunteers have expressed a willingness to volunteer again next year. Additional volunteers are always welcome and trainings will be held in early fall. Of course, as the Warming Center looks toward its fall opening in 2016, there will be a public request for additional volunteers.
The Merrill Area United Way reported the use numbers for the 2015-2016 second season.
Here are the numbers for the warming center usage this past season:
•Total Service Days: 128
•Total Guests: 13 (12 males and one woman)
•November- 15 service days, males
•December- 31 service days, males
•January- 31 service days, males
•February- 29 service days, males, with female 3 nights
•March– 22 service days, males
Early dialogue between the Merrill Area United Way Board and the Merrill Housing Authority is underway for possible 2016-17 season needs. Olsen noted, “The Merrill Housing Authority has been very generous toward the Warming Center and sees the long-term benefit of having a working relationship with our efforts to ensure the homeless population are supported through the Warming Center. Their support is paramount to our efforts.”
The Community Warming Center Task Force will continue with their regular meeting schedule in preparation for season 3 and long-term facility considerations. United Way thanks the community for their financial support and other donations, gift cards, restaurant coupons, food, clothing, materials, and volunteers. It is the community that has sustained this project.
For further information on the Warming Center contact the United Way office at 715-536-2016 or visit our website, www.merrillareaunitedway.org or our facebook page.