NVFS Helps With Prince William County Hypothermia Response

Last week, Northern Virginia braced itself for the coldest temperatures in 50 years, and the Prince William community rallied to protect its homeless population from the “Polar Vortex.” While the Prince William County Department of Social Services offers a winter shelter and drop-in program in Woodbridge, many community organizations – including faith-based groups, city and county government and local nonprofits – came together to offer a temporary hypothermia shelter.

Grace United Methodist Church hosted the shelter, which was staffed by volunteers from Grace and other local churches. These volunteers also reached out to the homeless camps to ensure they knew about the shelter and to provide transport there. Red Cross provided cots, blankets and pillows.

NVFS provided all the meals and drinks during this emergency for a total of 72 people. On the morning of Jan. 7, NVFS worked with the staff at the church and provide additional blankets, clothing, jackets, hats, gloves, shower supplies, books, games, and packaged food that individuals could take away with them. Additionally, NVFS provided a hot meal on the night of the 7th for all that were at the church. Staff at the church noted how grateful all he individuals were for the accommodations, food, and supplies. Many felt that they would have had trouble surviving this time outside.

The temporary shelter served the community from Jan. 6-8. As a result of this community response, there is dialogue about creating a permanent Prince William County hypothermia program. “Working within a community that focuses on the well-being of its residents is inspiring,” said Gwen McQueeney,” NVFS deputy director of shelter and rapid rehousing. “Within hours of this need arising, NVFS and our partners put a plan in place to ensure the safety of 22 individuals.”

Volunteer Opportunity: Point in Time

If you are interested in helping the homeless in Prince William County, NVFS’ SERVE Campus is in need of volunteers to assist with Point in Time, a one-day count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons throughout the nation. Point in Time 2014 will be held Jan. 29 from 6 – 11 a.m. Duties include travel to homeless campsites in the local area, taking a survey of the homeless and offering assistance, food and supplies. Point in Time will be held, rain, snow or shine. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, and be mature and sensitive to a vulnerable population. Background in human services or previous experience with the homeless is a plus. Bilingual skills also are a plus. Volunteers will feel good knowing they are helping to provide a snapshot of the number of homeless people in Prince William County as well as offer assistance to this population. For more information, please contact Jan Hawkins.