BHI seeking volunteers

Winter is quickly approaching, and for those forced to live outside it is critical that they can stay warm.  And Butler Homeless Initiative (BHI) is hoping to provide some hot meals and warm places to sleep.   
In partnership with the El Dorado First Church of the Nazarene at 202 N. Taylor, BHI opened its shelter doors for its first cold weather season Nov. 1 2016 to March 31, 2017.  The shelter serves up to 10 guests a night and offers a women’s dorm, a men’s dorm, and family sleeping rooms.   This year’s winter season will be the same, Nov. 1 through March 31.
“The community support has been so important.  Volunteers are vital to the shelter and we’re needing a few this winter,” said Danica Dickson, BHI executive director.
Dickson explained that the shelter schedule and the volunteer shift schedules have been adjusted this year.
Shelter guests will check in between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. and check-out the next morning at 8 a.m.
Two registered volunteers are needed per shift to ensure that the shelter will be open each night.
Volunteers can choose to work the 6 to 10 p.m. shift, which would include checking in guests, serving dinner, and getting guests comfortable for the night.
The 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift volunteers will receive a $35 stipend for working the shift, which is adjustable based on performance. Those volunteers will also have access to two meals.
A free volunteer training session will be offered from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19.  Dickson advised that if someone wants to volunteer and isn’t available to take the training on that date, other arrangements could be made by contacting her office at 316-323-4122 or email at: butlerhomelessdirector@gmail.com.  Training is important to ensure volunteers are prepared to respond to situations that can occur.  
Anyone over the age of 18  years who can pass a background check is encouraged to volunteer.  Everyone who signs up to volunteer is checked for sex offenses and violent offenses through the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Offender Registry before being able to help staff the shelter.  By registering, all volunteers consent to being screened for sex offenses and violent offenses.
Dickson is passionate about the program and helping others, “Our main concern is to make sure everyone has a place to sleep, eat and get out of the freezing temperatures.”
The local shelter averaged six guests a night last year and reached capacity five times.  Dickson admits that she doesn’t know what to expect this winter as far as people seeking shelter.
In addition to volunteers, Dickson advises that the shelter has a constant need of paper products, including paper towels and toilet paper.  
Whether summer or winter, hot or cold, there’s no good time to be homeless, but the winter season provides different difficulties and dangers  for the homeless. The most rapidly increasing group is homeless families with children, who are employed but unable to afford housing.   Consider volunteering or giving to the Butler Homeless Initiative.  Your kindness could save a life.

More information can be found at: butlerhomelessinitiative.com, or call 316-323-4122.