David Perkins and the other monitors at Wiley House and HAVEN House will be putting in some extra hours this week after a decision to keep the shelters open 24 hours during the coming winter storm.
Wiley and HAVEN are part of Our House: Caring for Callaway's Homeless program to provide shelter for the area's homeless population. Perkins used to be a client of Wiley House but started working at the shelter Jan. 1. He said he knows firsthand how important it is for the shelter to stay open during hazardous weather and will volunteer his time if necessary to make sure people have a place to go. After all, he said, there were monitors who were "gracious" enough to volunteer their time when he needed it.
"Fair is fair," Perkins said. "I want to return the favor and volunteer my time, too ... With this nasty weather, we can't just make someone go out."
Our House provides shelter from 6 p.m.-6 a.m. but is closed during the daytime hours. However, during times of hazardous weather, the shelters will stay open 24 hours.
Linda Clemens, executive director of Our House, said the shelters remained open all day Monday and will remain open today and Wednesday. Depending on the weather, they may also stay open on Thursday.
"Anyone who is homeless can check in anytime. They don't have to wait until six o'clock. They can just come and check in now," Clemens said.
She said the coming storm and frigid temperatures are dangerous.
"Even sleeping in your car is not a good idea," she said.
Clemens added that the shelter provides a warm, safe place for people to go where they can have hot beverages, sandwiches and a hot shower.
"It's a good place to be," she said.
Wiley House is for adult men and women and still has space available. HAVEN House, for families, is currently full, but Clemens said Our House would find a place for clients to go so no one is turned away.
Clemens is working toward keeping the shelter open 24 hours all winter long.
"Our goal this year is to try and secure funding to stay open 24 hours a day," she said. "It's awful when it's 3 degrees below 0 out, and you have to say to a group of people, "I'm sorry, but you have to leave the building.' "
Our House is looking to secure grants and plan fundraising activities to raise the estimated $50,000 budget increase needed to keep the shelters open from Nov. 1-March 31. Now the shelter can't afford to stay open 24 hours, Clemens said.
"We don't have a budget for staff and the extra utility costs associated with it, so we're going to appeal to the community to help us out," she said. "I think we have an obligation as a community to make sure every citizen is some place safe during inclement weather."
Donations can be made to Our House at 829 Jefferson Street, Fulton, MO, 65251. For more information, call (573) 642-6065.