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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Many homeless using emergency shelter

In this December photo, Jake Hamm, a board member with the Helping
Hands soup kitchen, looks over the newest location of the city’s emergency homeless shelter.

FILE PHOTO Enlarge Image

In this December photo, Jake Hamm, a board member with the Helping Hands soup kitchen, looks over the newest location of the city’s emergency homeless shelter.

Ever since the local emergency shelter opened its doors Dec. 10, there has been a consistent need for it every single night.

Marla Somersall, executive director of Samaritan House Ministries, right, accepts a donation from Westoba Credit Union marketing co-ordinator Pennie Nylen.

Enlarge Image

Marla Somersall, executive director of Samaritan House Ministries, right, accepts a donation from Westoba Credit Union marketing co-ordinator Pennie Nylen. (SUBMITTED)

The Safe and Warm program launched the shelter to help those seeking shelter from the bitter cold.

"There’s been between five and seven people there almost every night," said Marla Somersall, Samaritan House executive director.

With the extremely cold weather over the last few months, Somersall said there have been many people coming in to ask for coats and warm winter gear.

"It’s tough for the ones who, whether they’re staying in a shelter or whether they’re crashing on somebody’s couch, if they have to be out all day, it makes it really tough for them because there’s no place to go," Somersall said.

This is the first year the emergency shelter is located in the Helping Hands space on a nightly basis. Last year, they moved the shelter to various locations which proved to be challenging.

"We just found that it made more sense for us to have one location and co-ordinate it from there," Somersall said. "It’s the first year we’ve tried it this way, it has worked reasonably well. We’ve had a few kinks to work out ... but it has been easier than it was last year."

A committee of social service agencies, churches, and concerned individuals have worked together to develop the shelter including the Safe and Warm Committee, Samaritan House and Helping Hands. In December, city council approved $4,000 in emergency funding for the Safe and Warm program.

The challenge has been the high cost of hiring security for the shelter.

"It is our requirement," Somersall said. "There are shelters that run with volunteers, not in Brandon but in some places, and we just decided that we wanted to have two paid security guards, just for safety."

Those in need of Brandon’s emergency shelter have to access it through the 7th Street Health Access Centre. The plan is to keep the shelter open until the end of March.

This week, Westoba Credit Union presented the shelter with a cheque for $1,011. The credit union spent three weeks collecting donations for the cause.

"We were really happy to help and it was an awesome cause to be able to donate to," said Alissa Bevan, marketing co-ordinator with Westoba Credit Union. "I think everyone can relate to it at this time of year, so it was a really great time to run it."

Somersall said the donation will help cover the cost of security.

"Thank you to all the people who have supported it and to the city for stepping up and providing funding," Somersall said. "It’s made the difference because without those funds, we wouldn’t have been able to hire the security and a lot of people would have been on the streets in a very cold winter."

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 14, 2014

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Ever since the local emergency shelter opened its doors Dec. 10, there has been a consistent need for it every single night.

The Safe and Warm program launched the shelter to help those seeking shelter from the bitter cold.

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Ever since the local emergency shelter opened its doors Dec. 10, there has been a consistent need for it every single night.

The Safe and Warm program launched the shelter to help those seeking shelter from the bitter cold.

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