KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With single digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills expected in the next few days, Kansas City’s new homeless warming shelter is preparing for a busy weekend.
The center, established last week, is named in honor of Scott Eicke, a Kansas City homeless man who recently froze to death New Year’s Day.
Those organizing this effort to help the homeless know there have been some bumps in the road, but remain committed to doing all they can to make sure no one else dies in the frigid cold coming our way.
Open less than a week, the new Kansas City warming center in Bartle Hall is welcoming 100 houseless guests a night.
“It has been one of the most heartwarming experiences and emotionally touching and moving. It’s also been a huge learning curve,” said Nellie McCool, volunteer and community activist.
Several community advocates banded together with the city to make this happen. Even though ReStart, a local homeless advocacy non-profit is no longer a partner in the project, organizers say what’s happening here to serve those in need is working well.
“The fact we’re even offering a roof over their head temporarily and a meal is a huge accomplishment, but it doesn’t end there. We need to be able to support them emotionally and just bet there,” McCool said.
To keep the shelter running, more volunteers are needed.
“All you have to do is step up,” said volunteer Brian Smith.
Smith is doing what he can to help by taking car loads of donations and supplies to Bartle Hall and says anyone can find ways to get involved and make a difference.
“These people are people. It’s not just about feeding them. It’s not just about helping them, just treating them like human beings,” Smith said.
As the shelter prepares for potentially its biggest crowds yet with subzero temps expected, it’s hoping the work here will serve as a launching pad for finding new ways to serve Kansas City’s homeless.
“I think the best outcome is city learns from that and that we go into next winter with a plan in place already. We don’t have to wait for someone to die then pick up the pieces,” McCool said.
The city is expected to talk about creating a formal agreement with the volunteer groups here to cover the shelter’s operation during a city council business session Thursday.
If you’d like to get plugged in, here are a few ways to help: