Emergency Rotating Shelter looking for more volunteers
— The Cecil County Emergency Rotating Shelter will begin its winter season Nov. 27, but is still looking for volunteers to fill gaps in its schedule.
Shenise Daughtry, director of emergency services for Meeting Ground — the nonprofit homeless advocacy group that runs the program — hopes to fill those spots soon.
“We have a little over three weeks to be sealed,” Daughtry
The period from Dec. 12 to Jan. 8 are the main weeks that need attention, she said.
“We have a few nights covered and Christmas dinner is covered,” she said.
Holidays aside, Daughtry said this is a busy time for her office as well. The Homeless Memorial Service is scheduled for Dec. 21, which is the longest night of the year.
Every year, Daughtry said she tries to find a central theme for the season ahead. However, she always finds herself going back to an Old Testament scripture: Psalm 91:1, which reads “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
“We need to be a shelter like that,” she said. “What we do is a temporary thing that hopefully becomes an eternal thing.”
The shelter runs Monday through Sunday for 16 weeks. While churches typically play host, Daughtry said smaller churches, clubs, teams, civic groups and companies also participate by offering to feed and fellowship with the shelter guests for a night or two.
“Overnight monitors are the most pressing need,” she said.
Those people are on duty from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m. The job entails staying awake — which can be done in shifts with the others on duty — in case one of the guests has a problem or concern.
Five Rivers Church has an established facility for the shelter complete with built-in bunk beds and a commercial kitchen. However, other churches in Cecil County that have the space host the shelter themselves. Daughtry said the Five Rivers site on Whitehall Road in Elkton is used by smaller churches and groups.
Guests check in at the Mary Randall Center on Stockton Street in Elkton and are brought to the host site each evening. The guests depart each morning by 8 a.m. Almost 80 people were guests last year, Daughtry said. On average, each night there were 30 to 35 guests.
But Daughtry is getting indications that those numbers may go up this season.
“We typically get 12 to 15 new people each month,” she said of her intake job at Mary Randall. “We’ve had 14 new people already in November.”
Just about any organization can volunteer to fill the empty slots for one night or more.
No church affiliation is required, but those serving overnight must be at least 18.
Anyone interested in providing dinner and fellowship, staying overnight, or hosting for a week should contact Daughtry at 410-620-4701.