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'Pop-up' homeless shelter to open soon

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The Fort Frances Homelessness Committee soon will be set to open “Out of the Cold"—a three-day-a-week "pop-up” shelter at the Apostolic Way church here.

The 10-bed facility recently passed a building inspection but due to operational issues, the committee now is eyeing a mid-January start date.

Homelessness is a prevalent issue in the community and the committee is glad to soon be able to address the need.

“There's a lot of homelessness in our community,” stressed committee member Heidi Derkson.

“The committee's done some studies and we also see it around town,” she noted.

The committee currently has enough funds to open the shelter, having raised more than $45,000 to hire staff and to run it.

In addition to donations from non-profit groups and the public, 10 area First Nations this fall contributed $25,000 to the shelter while donations brought in through the “The Longest Night of the Year” sleep-out event on Scott Street in October totalled $18,000.

Northern Community Development Services also contributed $1,000 while staff at the Alterna Savings credit union here and in Rainy River recently kicked in $300.

“All year long we put money aside for 'dress-down Fridays' into a donation fund and then twice a year, whenever something arises, we choose a charity to donate our funds to in the community,” noted Denise Sjoblom of Alterna Savings.

In the past, Alterna Savings has donated to the Fort Frances “Community Chest” and the Riverside Foundation for Health Care.

“We feel it's important to keep the donations local to help the people of our community,” Sjoblom explained.

Once opened, the shelter will run on a first-come, first-served basis. A light meal also will be served each night.

The facility will lock down at 10 p.m. and those accessing the shelter will check out around 7 a.m.

Derkson is encouraging people to continue to donate and support the shelter to help address the community's homelessness situation.

“By donating to one specific place, then people aren't on the streets and I think that will help with crime,” she remarked.

"So far, people have been very generous with their donations and we really appreciate that.

“It's all new for all of us so it's a work in progress and we'll take all the help we can get—volunteer or otherwise,” Derkson added.

The committee also is looking for individuals who can make beds, do laundry in the mornings, assist with meal preparation, serve the meals, and volunteer in other ways.

Anyone interested in contributing can contact Derkson at outofthecoldshelter@outlook.com

You also can visit their Facebook page entitled “Out of the Cold” at https://www.facebook.com/homelessff/

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