Warming center numbers up, temps down

By Courtney Alexander, Staff Reporter

Recently below freezing temperatures, as low as single-digit temps, and snow and ice storms have impacted the community of Carbondale. Additional guests came to stay at the Carbondale Warming Center due to freezing temperatures, the center is for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. 

Carmalita Cahill, the executive director of Carbondale Warming Center, said the freezing temperatures caused the center to use additional space upstairs to accommodate more guests. 

Sanworlee Nyain walks back to her dorm Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Carbondale, Ill. Nyain said that she likes to stay in and stay warm. (Sophie Whitten | @swhittenphotography)

With the cold weather we’re having now […] we decided to cut the space in half upstairs because we don’t have anyone up there now, so if we have more people wanting to come in, we’re able to accommodate that,” Cahill said. 

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Cahill said the center had enough space to accommodate every guest, despite the unexpected weather events. 

“We still have room, we take in from the police station, various law enforcements in the area, and the hospital. We take in anytime day or night, we’re prepped and ready to go for however many more come in right now,” Cahill said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the homeless population around the city, the center follows safety protocols to prevent spreading the virus, now they have a space to get tested and have shelter amidst the pandemic. 

“Right now with COVID-19, we created a safe place for people who are experiencing homelessness, and they get the double whammy of crisis. Having to test for COVID-19 due to symptoms, or having COVID-19 and no place to go, so we have space upstairs for those individuals,” Cahill said. 

Daily meals are provided to the guests, local organizations from Carbondale donate food to the center to feed the guests. 

“We have meals that come in from various safe groups, including Feed My Sheep, Heartland Catering […] here in Carbondale, the sisters of the Mosque supply meals during the week also,” Cahill said. “We are able to supply breakfast which is usually some cereal, or some instant oatmeal that the guests are able to do themselves. And coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and fruit as we have it.”

The center also offers empowerment groups for both men and women and job programs that offer long-term employment. 

“So we went 24 hours and with that same process we thought well, we’ll be spending a lot of time with our guests. So we established a men’s empowerment, a woman’s empowerment, a goal orientation program and a jobs program, which has all been very successful,” Cahill said. “We’ve also assisted 48 guests into getting into their own place, and 60 percent of those who’ve gone through the job program are still maintaining their jobs now.” 

The Warming Center is located at 608 East College Street in Carbondale and can be contacted by calling 314-312-2539 or emailing [email protected]

Courtney Alexander can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at ___Courtney_alex23______. 

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