- Emily Williams
With temperatures dipping into the single digits and below, more people are seeking warmth at local shelters.
Springfield’s Interfaith Hospitality center has been operating at overflow since Sunday, said Larina Bias, program manager for the single women and family center. After Wednesday’s wind chills dropped below zero, need for shelter increased, Bias said, but the center is still equipped to take in more people.
“We still have plenty of room,” Bias said.
When the center operates at overflow, Bias said, they set up cots to increase the shelter’s occupancy.
The facility has two shelters: one for single men and another for single women and families.
There were 34 men and 22 women at the shelter Wednesday morning, according to Bias.
If space at the Interfaith Hospitality facility fills, the center will house people at a local hotel, Bias said, and the Salvation Army will open its gym as a shelter space. Neither have been necessary yet.
Springfield’s Soup Kitchen also opened Wednesday as a warming center. Anyone is welcome to come to the soup kitchen, get warm and have a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, said operator Fred Stegner.
“The soup kitchen is fortunate that we can turn on a dime and can open up and help people immediately,” Stegner said.
After a pipe froze in Springfield resident James Hubbard’s home, he came to the soup kitchen Wednesday afternoon to warm up and have a bite to eat. Hubbard also brought along his dog.
“I had somewhat of a fear of him going with me,” Hubbard said. “But I didn’t want to leave him behind.”
As long as space allows, Stegner said, people are welcome to bring their animals to come warm up, too.
Frigid temperatures are predicted to persist Thursday with single digit lows in the morning and wind chills in the negatives, reported Storm Center 7 meteorologist Kirstie Zontini. Temperatures will reach the middle 20s on Friday but will drop back down Sunday morning with sub-zero wind chills.