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MailTribune.com
  • GIMME SHELTER

    Trinity Episcopal Church opens its doors on Fridays to provide warmth and shelter for Ashland's homeless
  • Trinity Episcopal Church has begun operating as a daytime warming center on Fridays, providing a brief reprieve for the homeless who had dubbed that day "fend-for-yourself-Friday."
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  • Trinity Episcopal Church has begun operating as a daytime warming center on Fridays, providing a brief reprieve for the homeless who had dubbed that day "fend-for-yourself-Friday."
    Located downtown at 44 N. Second St., the church began inviting homeless people to come in for warmth from 10 a.m. until noon on Fridays last month.
    The Ashland library is closed on Fridays and no overnight shelters are offered on that day.
    Trinity offers overnight shelter on Wednesdays, while the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland hosts an overnight shelter on Mondays. Volunteers staff overnight shelters in a city building — usually Pioneer Hall near Lithia Park — on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
    So far, five to eight people have been visiting the church during warming hours on Fridays, said Trinity office manager Robin Weiss.
    "Usually they just fall asleep. They're just exhausted," Weiss said.
    Weiss said two people are on hand at the church to open the doors and offer assistance.
    Homeless people said on nights when there are no open shelters in Ashland, they resort to sleeping in their vehicles if they have them, finding cover in the forested hills above town, walking all night to stay warm or other tactics.
    "I've woken up with icicles in my hair and my feet frozen," said Colt Thurber, a young homeless man who has been in Ashland for about two months. "The freezing fog will get you because you get moist. Some nights I have to keep moving. If I stop, I'm at risk of hypothermia."
    Residents who would like to help out at the overnight shelters in Ashland can attend volunteer training from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Ashland Fire & Rescue Station No. 1 at East Main Street and Siskiyou Boulevard.
    Volunteers also are needed for the annual Point-In-Time homeless count, which occurs nationally.
    The count will take place Jan. 24-31 in Ashland.
    Trinity will host Point-In-Time volunteer training at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22.
    Ashland City Councilor Carol Voisin said getting a complete, accurate count of homeless children and adults is critical. The count helps determine how much federal and state funding Jackson County and social service agencies receive to help homeless people, she said.
    Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.
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