As temperatures drop, the danger for those living on the streets increases. And that means warming shelters become more vital in Central Oregon.
“By me choosing to come here, I’m not going to freeze, and by the grace of God that this place is here, I have somewhere warm to go,” said Sisters resident George Discuillo III.
Discuillo, who resides in a trailer, says he took the bus to Redmond in preparation for the severe cold.
“There’s nothing there,” he said about warming shelters in Sisters. “I mean, yeah, there’s, you know, the food banks. There’s that, but something like this, the warmth and to stay warm.”
Director of Emergency Services at Shepperd’s house ministries John Lodise says the Redmond shelter averages around 23 people a night, with a capacity of 30, and they are going to open the shelter during the day due to the upcoming freeze.
“Normally, those are the kinds of temperatures we see at nighttime that can threaten people’s lives,” said Lodise. “So tomorrow, we’re just dealing with it during the day and just going to have our doors open so that they’ll be safe during the day as well.”
“I like the option of being able to stay in all day tomorrow, especially because it’s going to be really cold,” said Christian Schaon, who says he uses the shelter as much as possible.
Over in Bend, Lodise says the Lighthouse Navigation Center, which is open 24/7, has seen around 110-120 people during the winter and expects Thursday to be a hectic day.
“Right now, there’s more snow in Bend than there is in Redmond, so that’ll bring even more people in,” Lodise said. “We’re ready to open up a little bit more space to let more people in, in case we have to go above 130 people in Bend.”
He sees firsthand the importance of giving those in need a warm place to be.
“Being out there all the time can really break people down,” Lodise said. “So just being able to come in, have a warm room to be in, have a warm meal, have other amenities, have people that they can share the time with really, really important for not just their survival, but just for their mental health as well.”
There is another shelter in Redmond run by Sheperd’s House Ministries, but it’s currently under construction. Lodise says it can hold 44 people and they are hoping it opens by next winter.
Lodise also says that once the shelter in open every day and in contact with those in need daily, it will make a tremendous impact in Redmond.