Temperatures are starting to dip near freezing, so a temporary shelter for homeless people in downtown Wichita is open and ready to help.
Inter-Faith Ministries opens its emergency winter shelter during the coldest months of the year to provide a safety net for people who have nowhere else to go at night.
So far, the shelter has served up to 55 men and about eight women each day since it opened Nov. 1.
Sandy Swank, Inter-Faith’s director of homeless services, says it’s just a matter of time before more people start coming to the shelter.
"My expectation is that if it gets really cold out and the weather gets bad, then it will probably jump maybe 25 percent to 30 percent each night, and we’ll see an increase every night," Swank says. "Last year, the largest number of people that we saw was 128."
The main shelter is located in an old church on North Market Street. There are enough sleeping mats and blankets to accommodate up to 140 men each night.
Homeless women stay in an Inter-Faith-owned building across the street. There is room for up to 40 women each night.
Volunteers prepare and serve a nightly dinner and morning breakfast.
"Last year, I think we had more than 3,000 volunteers who actually worked--preparing meals, coming in to help with the desk and different places," Swank says. "Inter-Faith Ministries would not be able to do all that it does for all these human beings that we work with if it were not for the community and its involvement."
Inter-Faith Ministries says last season, 763 individuals used the shelters.
Guadalupe Clinic provides a weekly medical clinic on-site for TB tests, flu shots and basic first aid.
The emergency winter shelter is open through March 31, 2017.
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