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Friday, 20 February 2015 11:35

Code Blue Needs Help

By | News

Record Number of People Seeking Shelter

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A Code Blue is in effect in many cities across the area, including Saratoga Springs. With the great amount of snowfall, freezing temperatures and harsh winds, Code Blue Saratoga Springs (CBSS) is providing much-needed shelter to around 40 people a night. 

The emergency shelter serves the homeless citizens of Saratoga Springs who might otherwise remain unsheltered during periods of extreme winter weather – defined by the shelter as 12 inches of snow or more and temperature of 20 degrees or less, including wind chill factor.

Volunteers say the shelter, located in the Salvation Army Center on Woodlawn Avenue, has already welcomed guests more nights this winter than during all of last year. Code Blue Saratoga Springs has been open for 31 consecutive nights and is scheduled to remain open through Sunday, Feb. 22 – a record stretch for the organization.

“This is only our second year so the history isn’t that long, but this is definitely the most we’ve been open consecutively,” said Ron Deutsch, steering committee member for Code Blue Saratoga Springs. “And there’s no end in sight, it seems, so it’s essential that we’re open because we’re averaging 40 or more people a night. Last year, we were averaging about 20 people a night and at the beginning of this winter season, we averaged 20 a night as well.”

The record-high number of those needing shelter also means Code Blue needs more volunteers. While more than 150 community members have worked shifts since the start of winter, the frigid weather has put a damper on volunteer sign-ups.

Deutsch says while CBSS has had a great outpouring of volunteers from the community and great support, the shifts most challenging to staff are the ones between the hours of midnight to 8 a.m., where they need volunteers the most. CBSS is also looking for volunteers for other shifts throughout the day, to help alleviate the current volunteers who have donated their time day after day.

“We’re getting some volunteer fatigue as well from a lot of diehard volunteers who work a lot at the shelter,” said Deutsch. “We’ve just been open so many nights that they really need some new blood in terms of volunteers.”

There are a variety of different shifts available for interested volunteers including: setup – preparing the shelter for operation; meals pickup – delivering food to the shelter donated by local restaurants and families; kitchen/cook – serving and preparing food and cleaning the kitchen afterward; companions – greet guests, help them settle in, generally help keep everyone comfortable and welcomed; cleanup – preparing the shelter for the next day’s operation; laundry pickup and delivery; and shift supervisor.

Volunteers say it takes a community to help a community and they’re hopeful that Code Blue will be able to meet the needs of everyone needing shelter.

“The guests at our shelter are extremely grateful to everyone that’s volunteering and really appreciate the fact that they have a warm bed they can sleep in at night and a hot meal in the evenings as well as breakfast in the morning,” said Deutsch. “Volunteering is beneficial to the guests, but beneficial to the individual as well…you get quite a big out of it…more than you realize.”

 

To sign up as a volunteer, or to donate supplies, meals or money, visit codebluesaratoga.org. For those seeking shelter, Code Blue will continue to be open through Sunday, Feb. 22. 

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