The Windham Region No Freeze Project is below on their average donation targets, which can jeopardize the effectiveness of the program, project managers said.
The project has four main services to assist people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including a seasonal shelter from November to April that gives people experiencing homelessness in the Windham area a safe place to sleep, Avery Lenhart, executive director of Windham Region No Freeze Project, said.
Since the project is funded purely from individual donations, faith-based groups and private foundation grants, the organization relies solely on donations.
“Without donations, we wouldn’t be able to do the things that we do,” Lenhart said. “That’s why it is so important. We use it to pay staff and other bills, like utilities, that we have to pay.”
According to a Feb. 12 press release from the project, the shelter has housed 105 guests so far this season. All of the 30 available beds have been full, and there has been an average of seven to 10 people sleeping in chairs. Lenhart said that the project is on a trajectory to house around 160 people this season.
Another part of the program is a walk-in hospitality center where people can access personal health and hygiene supplies, showers and restrooms without needing to stay overnight. There are also intake and diversion centers in which staff members connect homeless people to state and local assistance programs that can deliver permanent housing and try to reduce their likelihood of reentering the system.
People can help the project by donating through its website or sending a check to its P.O. box. If they aren’t in a position to donate money, they can donate goods.
“We also accept donations of things that we need, like cleaning products, paper towels, hand warmers, foot warmers, hygiene products – anything that people may need,” Lenhart said.
According to Lenhart, these programs are important because they help rebuild the community.
“We don’t want people freezing to death outside,” Lenhart said. “It’s a terrible way to go, and it’s terrible for the community. We want communities that are caring and loving. We want to care about people.”
Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.