Hypothermia Prevention Sites Gearing Up for the 2011-2012 Winter Season
As we approach the winter months and prepare to meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents in the Fairfax-Falls Church community, it is of utmost importance that we are all safe from the elements that can cause hypothermia and even death. I was amazed to learn of the collaborative efforts that have been put in place over the last several years to protect and safeguard our most vulnerable residents during the winter months through the Hypothermia Prevention Program and Winter Seasonal Programs. Particularly of interest is how the faith community has embraced the program and how they support the providers with hosting sites for the guests, including meal preparation and serving of the guests, and providing a community with supports for our most vulnerable residents. Together, nonprofit providers and volunteers work endlessly through difficult and unexpected weather situations to shelter and serve at-risk populations and to keep them safe. Additionally, Fairfax County Human Services agencies provide other supports necessary for clients to help sustain themselves. Those clients who choose to partake in case management services moving forward, engage and begin to look at how they can improve their lives and move toward opportunities for economic self-sufficiency and housing. I am proud to report that 17 vulnerable residents moved into permanent housing last year from this program alone and there were no deaths due to hypothermia reported.
Look at what collaboration and teamwork can do within a community when all step up and do their part. I thank each and everyone one of you for your part over the last several years. And, I challenge all of us to do our part this year and meet or exceed last year's successes to move us another step closer to ending homelessness in our community.
Michael L. O’Reilly, Chairman, Governing
Board of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and
During the 2010-2011 winter season, the collaborative effort of winter seasonal programs, including the Hypothermia Prevention Program, served 1,026 unduplicated guests at all of the sites as well as moved 17 clients into permanent housing. There were no hypothermia-related deaths reported during the 2010-2011 winter season!
This year the partners opened their shelters to “no turn-away” status on Nov. 1 (even if the weather is not at freezing temperatures). Sites are operated by the following providers with their volunteer faith communities:
- FACETS’ Hypothermia Prevention Season is Nov. 21 through March 17. FACETS served over 219 clients last season. Almost all temporary hypothermia prevention staff has been selected and are going through the final hiring process. FACETS continues to work on streamlining their case management program by offering clients a choice between accessing intensive one-on-one case management or life skills classes, or a combination of both, based on clients’ individual needs. The 2011-2012 season will be FACETS third completing the Fairfax County Self-Sufficiency Matrix at entry and exit for guests engaged in case management services. FACETS is also in the process of improving their volunteer and staff trainings. This year they will conduct volunteer trainings at the each host faith site to provide consistency and smooth operation. In addition, FACETS has set up Memorandum of Agreements with each of the host faith sites. FACETS rotates week-to-week between faith community hosting sites. Contact Heather Thomas for more information about the winter season program.
- Volunteers of America Chesapeake (VOA) Baileys Crossroad’s Hypothermia Program is operated under the agency and management of Baileys Crossroads Community Shelter (BCCS) and runs Dec. 1 through March 31. The Baileys Crossroads Hypothermia Program served over 442 clients last season and an additional 84 clients in their other winter seasonal programs for a total of 526 clients. Hypothermia prevention guests assemble at BCCS each evening at 4 p.m. for a hot shower and an evening meal. After dinner, BCCS transports approximately 25 women and up to 40 men to separate faith community-based hypothermia prevention shelters. Volunteers prepare food for the evening meal, breakfast items and bagged lunches for clients when they leave the hypothermia shelters the following morning. For more information contact Thornell Hancock.
Interfaith’s Embry Rucker Community Shelter (ERCS) operates
three separate (but similar) winter programs. The
ERCS Winter North County Program and winter seasonal programs
served over 298 clients last season. Beginning Nov. 1, they
offer 12 overflow cots for nine men and three women at their main
shelter from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. daily. Beginning Dec. 1, they will
open up floor space in the main shelter on a “no turn away” basis for
anyone seeking shelter from the cold from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.
daily and also will serve 25 individuals on floor mats at their
hypothermia program at the North County Government Building those same
hours. Each program is completely staffed by paid employees, and
each is supported by nightly volunteers who provide meals and
Bilingual staff is on-site at each program and the nurse practitioner visits the hypothermia sites two nights per week. Additionally, case management and housing locator services will be available for clients accessing any of ERCS's winter programs, and they have managerial support available 24 hours a day throughout the winter season ending March 31. ERCS is partnering with many agencies including the Fire Marshal's Office, the Police's Reston District Station and the Community Services Board's Detox Diversion and Mobile Crisis to safely manage emergency situations that may arise. Contact Ken Hinkel for more information about winter programs.
- New Hope Housing (NHH) operates the Ventures in Community Hypothermia Outreach Program (VIC-HOP) that opens its doors on Dec. 1 at Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church. VIC-HOP served over 111 individuals last season and NHH’s Eleanor Kennedy Shelter Winter Overflow served 63 individuals for a total 174 served. At the Rising Hope location, 25 males and females in total can be served per night. NHH shelter coverage is provided by a partnership of over 17 faith-based agencies and organizations located in Hybla Valley, Mount Vernon and the south county area. In addition to supervising the guests, volunteers provide clients a hot meal in the evenings, as well as breakfast items to go daily. Rising Hope operates from 6:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. For more information contact Tonya Golden.
- Friends of Falls Church Homeless Shelter in partnership with New Hope Housing operates the Falls Church Winter Shelter from Dec. 1 to March 31, providing a warm bed, meals, life skills classes and case management services to guests. Last season, the Falls Church Winter Shelter served 51 guests. The case management services have had a significant impact on the program and as a result, six residents transitioned into market-rate housing by the end of the season. The Friends of Falls Church Homeless Shelter utilizes over 150 volunteers to provide a hot meal and breakfast as well as assist staff with supervising the guests at the shelter. Contact Tonya Golden, who may direct inquiries about the Falls Church Winter Shelter.
The Homeless Healthcare Program (HHP) has four nurse practitioners from the Fairfax County Health Department providing flu shots again this year for Hypothermia Prevention season. Guests will be given the shots free and are encouraged to take advantage of this offer. Once again staff and volunteers will be trained on the use of stool collection kits at each site in the event that there is a gastrointestinal (GI) outbreak. This will save time, providing appropriate treatment sooner. Outreach workers should plan to visit each venue to enroll clients into the clinics' Community Health Care Network (CHCN). Please feel free to contact the nurse practitioner in your area for any medical needs or questions. Contact Lead Nurse Practitioner Lori McLean for questions related to HHP.
The effective collaboration and partnering of many other agencies includes the Community Services Board (CSB), the Police Department, the Fire Marshal’s Office, CSB's Detox Diversion and Mobile Crisis and the Housing Locator Network with the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness (OPEH). These groups support the program and its clients' needs throughout the season. This collaborative effort prevented deaths from hypothermia, provided case management to hundreds of clients and moved 17 individuals into permanent housing directly from the Hypothermia Prevention Program.
Each provider will announce their volunteer/staff trainings and send out invitations in collaboration with CSB staff. A video training is also available during the season for new volunteers and staff.
For further information on the Hypothermia Prevention Program, please contact Debbie Scaggs.