A church in Penticton has opened its doors as an emergency cold-weather shelter for the homeless.
Calling it a community effort, the Oasis United Church on Skaha Lake Road says 30 cots are available for temporary use, and that 10 were used on Tuesday night.
“It’s a faith response, definitely, but it’s also a response to a crisis of basic human need,” Keri Wehlander, pastoral care minister for Oasis United Church, told Global News on Wednesday.
“People are trying to find a way to stay warm when they’re sleeping outside at night, and it’s an emergency. It’s our responsibility, out of basic human good, to share what we can.
“We’re sharing what we have, which is space and a warm building.”
Temperatures throughout the Okanagan have been bone-chilling this week, though they are expected to warm up by the weekend.
Environment Canada was predicting a high of -13 C on Wednesday for Penticton, with Thursday’s forecast ranging from a high of -4 to a low of -13. For Sunday, the projected high is 0 with a low of -2.
The emergency shelter at the church will be open from 5 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. until Saturday.
Wehlander said there’s also space for people to sit and congregate, but, more importantly, “they’re in a space where they’re warm and they’re welcome.”
The church says people in the community have been donating food and clothing, and that those donations are greatly welcomed.
“The first night went really, really well,” said Wehlander, “and the congregation is grateful that we can respond to the crisis in this way because it feels like what we should be doing.”
For more about the church, click here.