One night at the Warming Center - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

One night at the Warming Center

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LACROSSE, WI (WXOW)—With the colder temperatures, the Warming Center in La Crossemakes sure everyone has a place to sleep out of the cold.

It'slocated at First Baptist Church on the corner of West Avenue and Main Street.

Anumber of volunteers and organizations contribute time to the center; amongthem the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

"It's just a service that's very much needed," Sr. Nina Shephard said."As we have heard, there are more homeless than you think inthis small city."

"There's no city in our country that needs to have homeless," Sr. Kathy Roberg said. "It is a reality and I think, wherever we can, be available to helpthem, you know, to be to make available for them a place to stay.  I think that's the best thing we can do for them."

"The Salvation Army is often full," Sr. Rita Feeney said.  "And there's no place for people tostay.  So, it's a hospitality placetreating people with dignity and getting them off the street."

Gaylordis one man who stays at the warming center on a regular basis.

He'sfrom Viroqua and has been homeless since he lost his job a couple years ago.

Only 15 people can get into the Warming Center every night, so Gaylordgets there early, around 7:00 to make sure he gets a spot.

"You just sit and wait," Gaylord said. "You can't break in."

He waits on the front steps with his friends trying to keep warm fortwo hours until they unlock the doors.

"Then each person has to fill out a registration form, intake formand we just get basic information from them," Mike Schnitzius, Warming Center Volunteersaid.

The information helps volunteers refer guests to other services theymay qualify for.

Once they're checked in, guests are free to get a bite to eat, watch TVor sleep.

At 10:00 p.m. the doors are locked and people can only come in with areferral from the Salvation Army or police.

"They are pretty much on the street," Schnitziussaid. "As a last resort they may have somebody in thecommunity they can stay with for a night. Some people find places they can getinto to stay warm."

When 6 a.m. rolls around, volunteers wake everyone up.

They have an hour to get the sleep out of their eyes, have a cup ofcoffee and head to wherever they're going.

"I'm going to the Salvation Army for breakfast then to the libraryto read," Gaylord said.

The Warming Center relies ondonations to keep them open; they are seeking monetary donations as well ascoffee, sugar, cups, paper plates, napkins, utensils, cleaning supplies andquick breakfast items like cereal bars, pop tarts and fruit.

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