La Crosse shelter addresses community needs

With the weather getting colder. needs at organizations like the Warming Center are increasing. News 8’s Sarah Thamer tells us how those needs are being addressed and the work that still needs to be done. Sarah? When it comes to helping people who are homeless. local organizations such as the warming center. are doing their best to provide overnight shelter. clothing. food and more. But with a wide variety of complex issues. comes a higher demand of needs. Each day I think for our guests, when you don’t have a place that’s yours, I think your biggest challenge each day is survival. The doors of La Crosse’s Warming Center open at 7 p.m. each night in the winter. And until 8 a.m. the next day, people who are homeless are able to eat, shower, sleep and find items to meet their basic needs. And that’s the best that we can do. Warming Center Coordinator Mark Schimpf says the needs vary for each guest who utilizes the services, so the organization is always looking for help and welcoming donations. Socks, hats, mittens, we sponsor a meal every night, meal sponsors are typically still in need especially as we move forward toward January. But there is one area that Schimpf says seems to be the root of many of the problems he’s seeing.. Good access to healthcare, especially mental health care. Schimpf says although there are things like Badger Care and other area doctors who are willing to help, those who are homeless and suffer mental health issues and substance abuse, aren’t getting the actual help they need. You can’t focus on any of that when your day to day grind is survival, that is it, that is all you can focus on when you’re homeless, is just surviving day to day. He says it’s not necessarily a community issue, and stems from a string of systemic challenges that make it harder for people who are living on the streets to have access to proper services. We have people who come here who are in crisis who have either never been homeless and just got evicted or are going through a fairly severe mental health episode or they’ve relapsed. The Warming Center is often the front line of these challenges and Schimpf says they do what they can to connect them with case workers and the county, but he says it may be a long road before their shelter stops filling up. There will come a day when we will not need 50 chairs and maybe we just need 10 or 15 or even less, I dont know but I’m not sure you ever lose the need for this exact kind of shelter, we fill a very special role for people here. Reporting in LAX, ST, News 8. Warming Center directors also say among the items that are always looking to get. they are seeking overnight volunteers at the shelter. Thanks Sarah. If you want to help or have any questions. you can find the Warming Center Director’s information on our website. News 8-thousand dot com.

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