The Paducah Warming Center will open earlier than planned next week to accommodate cooler temperatures. It needs more volunteers to help make the service possible.
The warming center is held at the Community Kitchen building, 1237 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., and it's volunteer run, so without enough volunteers, it can't operate every time it's needed to provide a warm place to sleep, food and other amenities for the public.
Organizers intended to operate Dec. 1 through March 31, but temperatures led them to start scheduling volunteers for shifts beginning Wednesday, Nov. 6.
"We serve supper or dinner to those that are staying the night," Paducah volunteer Mary Ruth Jamison said. "We have showers, cots and blankets. They watch movies. We play games. We just interact with them the best we can."
She estimates anywhere from five to 10 people use the warming center on any given night. Visitors can also use laundry and shower facilities that are available.
The warming center isn't just for homeless people, as Jamison recalled one visitor from another county who stayed at the warming center after their gas heater went out.
"It's (also) for people that can't pay their electric bill and it gets turned off, so they're not in the cold - they can come to the warming center," she added.
Jamison, who coordinates volunteers, said about 60 people have signed up as of Thursday, but there are still lots of open spots available. Around 60 volunteers are needed to cover shifts each month.
Volunteers work in teams of two (one man, one woman) to cover a 5:30-10:30 p.m. shift each night, when the temperature is below 40 degrees before midnight. They must be at least 18 years old.
Mayfield resident Jody O'Neill, who coordinates with Jamison, said it's a "blessing" to serve, describing the work as a wonderful opportunity and ministry.
Volunteers help sign visitors in, get information, provide assistance and interact with them.
"I just have a love for people," she said. "I really enjoy just sitting and talking to people and just seeing how I can meet their need. We serve a lot of veterans and that's very dear and near to my heart because my father's a Vietnam vet and I know there's a lot of veterans that are homeless and on the streets."
For more information, contact Jamison at 270-556-8591 or O'Neill at 270-705-1207. Volunteer signup for different shifts can be accessed at https://volunteersignup.org/AAJXA.