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Local homeless shelter in need of volunteers

La Crosse-Eau Claire WEAU logo La Crosse-Eau Claire WEAU 4/9/2020 Carly Swisher
a person preparing food in a kitchen © Provided by La Crosse-Eau Claire WEAU

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A homeless shelter in Eau Claire moved to a temporary location a couple weeks ago. Since the transition, the shelter has teamed up with a local resource center to stay open 24 hours a day. People experiencing mental health concerns or homelessness have a place to go during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Sojourner House homeless shelter is temporarily located at Hobbs Municipal Ice Arena in Eau Claire to offer a larger space to accommodate social distancing. Typically the shelter is only open at night, but it's partnering with Positive Avenues to provide a 24/7 facility.

Andrew Mahler is one of the many people in need of a place to sleep at night as well as a place to hangout during the day.

"It is nice to have somewhere to rest or sit down, that's not outside, every now and again."

Positive Avenues is usually a daytime drop-in center. Alyssa Greene, the Positive Avenues Family and Community Professional says typically when the Sojourner House would close, the people staying there would then go to Positive Avenues to hangout for the day.

But with the spread of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, adjustments are being made. Sojourner House Director Brianne Berres says the collaboration with Positive Avenues is making it possible for people to remain safe inside one space.

"Governor Evers says that we're safer at home and so this gives us the opportunity to be safer at home too."

The temporary shelter is now a safer and healthier place for people to stay at daily to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

"There's like a system going on so it's bringing in less germs," said Greene. "They don't have to go and sit and walk around a grocery store, they can come here and get a nice place to eat and have a warm place to sleep."

Berres says the space is also allowing everyone sleeping or hanging out there daily to become a family unit at the arena, which is a comfort in these uncertain times. Although, the added hours to the shelter is a good thing, staff say they are in need of volunteers from the community more than ever.

"Cleaning, serving meals and just helping out with everyday operations because with the amount of staff we have, it's sometimes hard," said Greene.

The extra help will keep things running so the facility can remain a home to some of the people that are especially in need of one right now.

"It's kind of a scary situation so a lot of people just need someone to talk to so we're there for that too," said Greene.

If you are looking to volunteer during the daytime, you can contact Kim Campy with Positive Avenues at 715-864-5689 or kimberly.campy@lsswis.org.

For volunteering at night, you can contact Clare Nelson with Sojourner House at 715-450-1457 or cnelson@cclse.org.

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