Keeping the Most Vulnerable from Exposure to Cold and Frigid Weather
The 2012-2013 Hypothermia Prevention Program is an integral part of the Fairfax County program to prevent and end homelessness that incorporates the collaborative work of area faith communities, civic organizations, businesses and individual volunteers. The Hypothermia Prevention Program represents a shining example of collaborative effectiveness in serving the critical needs of the chronically and vulnerable homeless persons when they are in most danger of exposure to cold and frigid weather.
In the winter season of 2011-2012, the collaborative effort of the winter seasonal programs, including the Hypothermia Prevention Program, was able to serve over 1,000 unduplicated guests at all of the sites as well as move many clients directly into permanent housing! There were no hypothermia related deaths reported during the winter season of 2011-2012!
Again this year, the partners will open their shelters to “no turn-away” status effective on Nov. 1 (even if the weather is not at freezing temperatures). If temperatures do drop below freezing prior to this date, no turn-away status is in effect. Sites are operated by the following providers with their volunteer faith communities:
- FACETS’ Hypothermia Prevention Season begins Nov. 25, 2012 through March 16, 2013. FACETS served over 200 clients last season. They are actively recruiting volunteers, faith community workers and staff while gearing up for this winter season. All weeks are filled for faith partners to participate as hosting sites. Almost all temporary Hypothermia Prevention staff has been selected and is 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 the clients’ individual needs.
The 2012-2013 season will be FACETS’ fourth season 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 FACETS will be conducting volunteer trainings at each host faith site to provide consistency and smooth operation of the site. In addition, it has set up a Memorandum of Agreement with each host faith site. FACETS rotates week-to-week between faith community hosting sites and, beginning in January 2013, they will operate from two faith community sites each week. For further information, please contact Jerrianne Anthony.
- Friends of Falls Church Homeless Shelter, in partnership with New Hope Housing (NHH), operates the Falls Church Winter Shelter from Dec. 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 providing a warm bed, meals, life skills classes and case management services to guests. Last season, the Falls Church Winter Shelter served 38 guests. 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 with inquiries about the Falls Church Winter Shelter.
- New Hope Housing operates the Ventures in Community Hypothermia Outreach Program (VIC-HOP), which opens its doors on Dec. 1, 2012 at Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church. VIC-HOP served over 214 individuals last season and NHH’s Eleanor Kennedy Shelter Winter Overflow served 52 individuals for a total 266 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 to-go breakfast items daily. Rising Hope operates from 6:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. For more information contact Sherry Edelkamp or Tonya Golden.
- Reston 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 380 clients last season. Beginning Nov. 1, 2012, 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, 2012, 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 24 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 activities.
Bilingual staff is on-site at each program and the nurse practitioner visits the hypothermia sites each 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 team to safely manage emergency situations that may arise. Contact Ken Hinkel for more information about winter programs.
- Volunteers of America Chesapeake (VOAC) Baileys Crossroads Hypothermia Program is operated under the agency and management of Baileys Crossroads Community Shelter (BCCS) and runs Dec. 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013. The Baileys Crossroads Hypothermia Program and Winter Seasonal Programs served over 450 clients last season. Hypothermia prevention guests assemble at BCCS each evening at 4 p.m. for a hot shower and an evening meal. BCCS transports guests after dinner to their prospective off-site hypothermia prevention shelter sites. Approximately 25 women and up to 40 men each night are taken to separate faith community-based hypothermia prevention shelters throughout the season. Volunteers prepare food for the evening meal and breakfast items and bagged lunches for clients to take with them when they leave the following morning. For more information contact Thornell Hancock.
The Homeless Healthcare Program (HHP) has three nurse practitioners from the Fairfax County Health Department providing flu shots again this year for Hypothermia Prevention season. Guests will be given shots free of charge 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 and allow them to appropriately treat issues 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 Fairfax County Police Department, the Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s Office, CSB's Detox Diversion and Mobile Crisis teams and the Housing Locator Network with the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness. 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 individuals into permanent housing directly from the Hypothermia Prevention Program.
For further information on the Hypothermia Prevention Program, please contact Debbie Scaggs.