Volunteers are needed to staff an overnight emergency shelter that Bismarck-Mandan nonprofit groups are working to establish at a local church next week.
A church has agreed to provide space for a short-term emergency shelter to keep people out of the cold until a solution is found to replace the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House shelter that closed on Oct. 27.
Jena Gullo, executive director for the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way, said the church shelter could be in place as early as Monday. She declined to name the church until the plan is finalized.
The United Way is recruiting volunteers to work 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. and 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. shifts. People can sign up by going to www.volunteerbisman.com and clicking on the winter shelter program tab.
Residents of the overnight shelter will go through a screening process prior to being transported to the church. Volunteers will be trained and professionals from area service providers will be on call to assist volunteers.
In the meantime, the United Way will continue to work with law enforcement and other local service providers to ensure no one is out in the cold, Gullo said. Since the Ruth Meiers shelter closed, the United Way has served about 20 people in need, she said.
Donations for a winter emergency shelter can be directed to the United Way at msaunitedway.org or mailed to MSA United Way, P.O. Box 2111, Bismarck, ND 58502.
Donations of clothing items, such as socks, hats, gloves and coats, or personal hygiene items can be dropped off at the United Way office, 515 N. Fourth St.
Personal hygiene items also can be dropped off at Ministry on the Margins, 201 N. 24th St. in Bismarck.
The United Way, the Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People, Youthworks and other area nonprofits met Friday and continue working to find a longer term shelter option for this winter.
“This church is wonderful but it should be very temporary,” said Melanie Heitkamp, Youthworks executive director.