Amen's shelter in Prince Albert, Sask., is back, but with temperaturesdipping below –30and with homeless people streaming in, the pastor in charge says he'sstruggling to findenough volunteers.
'Many times I've talked with people, they've had to stay up all night, maybe sleep on the riverbank or they've had to walk the streets all night just to stay awake and keep from freezing.' —Vern Temple, who helped raise money for the shelter
The city's only men's shelter had been closed for nearly 1½ years due to a lack of money before thePrince Albert Grand Council and other groups donated cash soit could reopen onJan. 25.
"It's not only a place to sleep, it's a safe place too," said Wesley Whitedeer, 28, who was one of the first to stay at the reopened 18-bed shelter.
The shelter now collects money from various agencies to pay for the rooms.
But there's only enough to pay for three staff, making it necessary for volunteers to fill in. Five regular volunteers have signed up, and others help out when they can, but there arestill holes in the schedule that need to be filled, said Pastor Andrew Bear, who's in charge of the facility.
"I have about 72 hours that I have to fill this weekend," Bear said. "It's a serious crisis. Yeah, we do need volunteers."
Bear said he's grateful forthe volunteers healreadyhas.
One of them, Irving Leland, said it giveshim a warm feeling inside to know that hecan help people with their problems.
"We need to continue this," Leland said."I'm just part of a lot of people in town that want to help."
Vern Temple,who is withthe group that worked for months to raise moneyfor the facility, saidnot having ashelter left some men in desperate circumstances on frigid nights.
"A lot of people can always, you know, find a couch to sleep on," Temple said.
"But many times I've talked with people, they've had to stay up all night, maybe sleep on the riverbank or they've had to walk the streets all night just to stay awake and keep from freezing."
Overnight temperatures were expected to stay into the low –20s and –30s into the weekend.