The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)

Code Blue shelter: Demand up, volunteers needed

Organizer: Higher turnout likely due to Norristown closure

- By Dan Sokil dsokil@thereporte­

LANSDALE >> The call has gone out, and looks likely to continue for at least one more night if not several this week.

Lansdale’s Code Blue shelter is still seeking volunteers and donations to help those in need of a place to stay during cold weather, starting with Monday night.

“We’re doing fairly well, but we could always use volunteers,” said shelter organizer Mark Lanan.

“It looks like there will be Code Blue declaratio­ns through Thursday morning. Please be proactive and fill in the shifts that you can provide. Only 13 shifts needed,” he said.

Each year for over a decade, volunteers have hosted a shelter at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale, 1000 W. Main St, for anyone who needs a place to stay when temperatur­es drop dangerousl­y cold. After spending the winter of 2020-21 at another site due to COVID-19, the shelter returned to Trinity in 2021-22 with COVID-19 precaution­s in place and staffed a total of 1,635 hours, according to Lanan; organizers began training for this winter season in October.

Monday “will be the fourth night, and we’re averaging about 14 or 15 people. It’s a lot more, and I have a feeling it’s because of Norristown: at this point Norristown does not have a Code Blue shelter,” Lanan said.

“I think the men might be coming up to us, but I don’t ask. We just give them coffee,” he said, adding that one man who has used the shelter this year is their first blind guest, and has a friend pick him up and drop him off.

County and municipal officials are “aware of” the need for a shelter in the Norristown area, he added, and several private businesses and organizati­ons have stepped up to help with the increased need.

“Clemens is doing an excellent job with blankets, Clemens Uniforms, and Chef Chipper is picking up sandwiches in the morning. It’s a well-oiled machine for now,” he said.

“And the Red Cross is giving us lots of cots: we just picked up a shipment of 42 Red Cross cots, and they’re nice cots, so as they break or wear out we have extras,” Lanan said.

Each Code Blue night requires at least two volunteers, at least 18 years old, for three shifts: an intake shift from 7:30 p.m. to midnight, an overnight shift from midnight to 6 a.m., and a breakfast shift from 6 to 8 a.m.; all three shifts must be staffed for the shelter to open. Those volunteers must pass a background check, free to those who apply, and COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns are encouraged but not required; anyone interested can contact codeblue@trinitylan­sdale. com, along with their name and contact info, and that info will be saved by Trinity’s administra­tors and remain confidenti­al. Due to space limitation­s, the shelter is open to men only.

Donated items are also accepted at Trinity and can be left in the church lobby between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays; a full list of items needed is available on the Code Blue shelter’s Facebook page and includes socks, hats, long johns, gloves, hand warmers, coats, prepackage­d food, gifts cards to Sudz laundromat, and more.

“We can always use socks, gloves, and clean, new men’s underwear. The Trinity church lobby is open, and the receptioni­st there knows where to put the donations,” he said.

County officials added several winter weather tips in the announceme­nt of the Code Blue nights, including checking in on elderly friends and neighbors to make sure their homes are heated, and calling or texting 911 or the county’s Your Way Home program at 211 for those who need help. Other tips include making sure your car is winterized with inflated tires, antifreeze, a full gas tank and an emergency kit; checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; wearing appropriat­e clothing; avoiding prolonged exposure to winter weather, and limiting time outdoors for pets during harsh temperatur­es.

For more informatio­n or to volunteer at the Lansdale shelter, contact or codeblue@trinitylan­ for more informatio­n, or follow “Code Blue Shelter — Lansdale PA” on Facebook.

 ?? DAN SOKIL — MEDIANEWS GROUP ?? Code Blue shelter organizer Mark Lanan, right front, and co-organizer Leslie Johnson, front left, speak to volunteer Linda
DAN SOKIL — MEDIANEWS GROUP Code Blue shelter organizer Mark Lanan, right front, and co-organizer Leslie Johnson, front left, speak to volunteer Linda

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