Providing immediate shelter assistance
Plans are in the works for a temporary cold weather shelter in El Dorado during the winter.
The idea began when Real Life Christian Church Pastor Corey Landreth spoke with Pastor Tom Gaskill from the First Church of the Nazarene.
Gaskill said he had a space in his basement and after talking with his church, said they were interested in further discussing the possibility of providing a shelter. Their basement includes two larger rooms and one smaller room, as well as 20 cots they already have.
To further the plan, Meloday Gault, director of the Butler Homeless Initiative and Gaskill met with representatives from the city of El Dorado, Butler County Sheriff, El Dorado Police Department and El Dorado Fire Department to get their input on the plan.
The basement has a ground-level access with just a few steps down to it as one of two doors they would use, and BHI is willing to help with the cost to create a security door that only opens from the inside. The shelter would be staffed with three to four volunteers per shift for four shifts. The plan is for it to provide a warm place for people to sleep from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. and the doors would be locked after 10 p.m.
"I wouldn't imagine more than three or four in an evening," Gault told the group.
She said BHI received 10 calls in November for immediate shelter assistance, with three of those coming from people outside of Butler County.
City Manager Herb Llewellyn said they agreed it was important for people not to freeze, and from the city's perspective, they would focus on the aspects of public safety and how they would handle an emergency. The city would leave organizing and running the shelter to BHI and the churches.
Gault said they saw this as a community project, where several churches would provide the volunteers to run the shelter.
To help prepare volunteers, the sheriff's office offered use of their mental health and first aid training DVDs for volunteers to watch.
Gault did point out there would not be any type of programs for those staying there because it is just a temporary cold weather shelter, although volunteers could still tell people about programs and resources available to them. The shelter would open when temperatures were at freezing or below.
"I would be surprised if this winter you get a customer we don't know," Llewellyn said.
Police Chief Curt Zieman agreed and added the few homeless they see who are truly homeless are often that way because of drug addiction.
With the consent of those at the meeting, BHI and the churches will continue moving forward with their plans.
"We want the necessary volunteers before we start it," Gaskill said.
"I think the pastors were ready to go back to their congregations with it," Gault added.
She said it would take at least a couple of weeks before it would be ready to go.