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Warming centre opening its doors

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The Fort Frances Homeless Committee has shifted gears in the recent weeks in order to ensure a warm, safe space is open overnight for the homeless population in Fort Frances.

After experiencing a number of delays, along with staffing and location approvals, the committee elected to mirror other communities' success with an overnight drop-in centre.

“This is not a shelter,” confirmed Homeless Committee co-chair Jamie Petrin.

“What we are doing is opening a space in which people without a safe place to be at night can come in and be warm, have company, coffee, and a meal,” she noted.

“They can stay all night or for as long as they like.”

Two staff will be on hand during the open hours to offer support and provide referrals.

These staff, who have backgrounds in social services, will assist people in achieving stability, allowing those experiencing homelessness to move forward.

The “Out of the Cold” program's vision is to create an atmosphere of trust, where opportunities for change can be discovered and use people's strengths to better their situation.

The warming centre will be located in the east offices at the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau.

At this time, the “Out of the Cold” program will be open from 7:30 p.m.-7:30 a.m., beginning with three nights starting Tuesday, Feb. 19 until Thursday, Feb. 21.

Following the first week, the centre will be open consistently on Sunday-Tuesday nights.

The committee is looking to increase it to seven nights per week in the near future, subject to staffing.

The centre aims to be open for eight weeks.

“We are so grateful to the Fort Frances Family Centre, who opened their doors 24/7 during the [recent] cold snap, as well as the caring individuals who have donated to see 'Out of the Cold' open this winter,” Petrin said.

“We anticipate that with the generous community donations, we will have the funds to be able to staff this drop-in centre seven nights a week for the remainder of the winter,” she noted.

Anyone wanting to volunteer is encouraged to visit “Out of the Cold” on Facebook.

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