DECATUR – Room at the Inn, a new church-based emergency shelter for the homeless, will open for the first time tonight at City of Praise Church, 1415 N. Edward St.
Temperatures are expected to dip into the single digits, cold enough for the shelter to be put into service. People seeking shelter are asked to enter through the north door starting at 7 p.m.
The fellowship hall will remain open until 7 a.m. Wednesday unless no one shows up by 11 p.m. today.
“We want to provide warmth and shelter because we care,” Joyce Keller said.
Keller and Lee Taylor co-authored a letter to the editor published in the Herald & Review last summer calling for churches to open their doors to the homeless during extreme cold and heat.
Getting little response, the pair met Nov. 4 with representatives from two churches, City of Praise Church and Way of Life Christian Center, and others to get something started.
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Minister Samuel James, business administrator for Way of Life, offered volunteers and funding, and Tara Robinson, a member of City of Praise, offered her church.
The group, which also included Minister Marty Warren of City of Praise, decided Monday to raise the shelter's temperature trigger from zero degrees to 10 degrees, causing today's opening.
“The cold we had this weekend made me feel guilty being in a warm house and warm bed,” Keller said, “and I thought we should be doing something. It's frigid out there.”
Organizers plan to supply the emergency shelter with blankets, coffee and sandwiches at a minimum and get the word out about the opening through the Decatur Police Department and Oasis Day Center for the homeless.
They also hope, in time, to have volunteers from additional churches to call upon.
People seeking shelter do not need to have an ID to be admitted but they cannot be inebriated nor may they have any alcohol, drugs or weapons in their possession. Fighting and swearing will not be tolerated.
Robinson said at this time the shelter could accept as many as 20 people.