A County Comes Together to Prevent Hypothermia


Fairfax County Department of Family Services
12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 500
Fairfax, VA 22035-1102

February 11, 2009

A County Comes Together to Prevent Hypothermia

Thousands of volunteers in Fairfax County are coming together this winter to help protect those in the community who are homeless and could be at risk of hypothermia.

For the fifth consecutive year, local faith communities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations are partnering with Fairfax County government to prevent hypothermia deaths.

This community-based effort supplements the year-round shelter and additional winter capacity offered by the county's homeless shelters.

Last winter, over 2,300 volunteers from 57 faith communities and 13 nonprofit and business organizations partnered with the county in this community- based effort that served 724 homeless individuals.

This winter, even more hypothermia prevention shelter sites are available, thanks to the commitment and support of the community. Shelter sites are open every night through March 15 in four regions of the county.

Important: If you see someone at night who is unsheltered, and you think they could be at risk of hypothermia, call the county's non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711. County personnel will determine which shelter option is best in the situation.

In addition to the extra winter capacity available at the county's year-round homeless shelters the following volunteer-supported hypothermia prevention efforts are underway throughout the winter in Fairfax County:

North County (Reston / Herndon area): Reston Interfaith, a local faith-based organization, is operating a hypothermia prevention shelter site using office space owned by the county government and coordinating volunteers from faith communities and businesses who provide dinner and breakfast. The shelter serves up to 25 people.

Central County: Two faith communities each week host shelters and provide meals, often assisted by other faith communities. FACETS, a local nonprofit organization, coordinates this effort. Each shelter serves approximately 30 to 40 people.

East County: Volunteers of America, a nonprofit organization that operates Fairfax County's Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter, is overseeing the hypothermia prevention effort in the eastern part of Fairfax County and coordinating the support from nearby faith communities who offer overnight shelter. Shelter guests eat dinner at the Bailey's shelter. Then VOA transports the men to a sheltering site at a nearby faith community and the women to a nearby county family shelter operated by Shelter House, Inc. The East County hypothermia prevention effort serves up to 60 people.

South County: Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church provides the sheltering site all winter, as it has done for several years. Ventures in Community, a consortium of faith communities in the South County area, provides meals and overnight volunteers, supported by New Hope Housing, the nonprofit organization that operates two county homeless shelters nearby. The Rising Hope shelter site serves up to 25 people.

The county's Department of Family Services oversees and coordinates Fairfax County's overall hypothermia prevention effort. A county nurse and mental health staff also visit the sites.

In addition to Fairfax County's hypothermia prevention program, the City of Falls Church provides space for the Falls Church City Winter Shelter, operated by New Hope Housing in partnership with the Friends of Falls Church, a nonprofit group.

With over a month to go, county staff estimates that the numbers of people served by this year's hypothermia prevention effort has already surpassed the number served last year.

The county's hypothermia program provides short-term assistance to persons who are homeless, but the county is also pursuing a long-term plan to prevent and end homelessness within a decade.

This week the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed Dean H. Klein as director of the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, which was established within Fairfax County Government to manage, coordinate and monitor day-to-day implementation of the Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in the Fairfax-Falls Church Community.

For more information about preventing and ending homelessness, including the full strategic plan and other resources, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/homeless.

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Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs services and activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request. To request this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-5870; TTY 703-222-9452.


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