Freedom Warming Centers Gear Up for Winter
Source: Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara
When winter weather strikes, conditions become life-threatening for those living on the streets, or other places unfit for human habitation. Luckily, Freedom Warming Centers (FWC), a grassroots partnership between nonprofits and faith communities, provide temporary “pop-up” shelter for the County’s people living without homes during dangerously cold or damp weather conditions. All winter long FWC gives people safe shelter in a storm. Now, the community can help give back to FWC financially, so organization can continue to focus on their mission of giving shelter to those in need on cold, wet nights.
That’s where the Warm-Up Campaign comes in: the Freedom Warming Center (FWC) is looking for the public’s help to raise funds on Crowd Rise. Every $100 raised will support one individuals’ nightly warmth, safety, and vitality during the entire cold season. The fundraising is in preparation to raise funds for the FWC’s 2019-2020 winter activation season, and goes towards sheltering over 1,000 homeless individuals across its 12 sites in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Carpinteria, Isla Vista, and Lompoc.
The FWCs are a low-barrier service providing shelter to all in need of sanctuary on cold nights. Guests can arrive at any hour of the evening, between 6am-6pm for rest, and pets are welcome.
“This is where homeless individuals would not find someone with a clipboard standing at the door asking if they’d stopped drinking yet. Instead if someone is hungry, they feed him; if they are cold, they give them a warm place to sleep. Kindness is measured one person at a time,” said Dr. Charity Dean, Assistant Director of California Department of Public Health.
In 2009, moved by the tragic death of a Santa Barbara homeless man who his friends called “Freedom,” a group of homeless advocates, faith community, and others began working on solutions that would reduce or eliminate the chances of anyone dying from winter conditions in Santa Barbara County. From those meetings, the Freedom Warming Centers was launched.
Freedom Warming Centers is the only program providing countywide warming center services and can be a gateway for homeless individuals seeking recovery and/or housing services and other resources. Individuals who access warming center service have fewer emergency room visits and less likely to be housed in jails. When activated countywide, the Freedom Warming Centers serve approximately 200 individuals a night, and over 1,000 unduplicated individuals per season.
“Supporting the Freedom Warming Centers is necessary; it is who we are as a congregation and as individuals,” said Reverend Julia Hamilton, Lead Minister at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.
FWC is gearing up for the cold and rainy season and needs everyone’s support to provide safety and sanctuary to the most vulnerable people in the County. Funds raised during the Warm-Up Campaign will go towards staffing FWC’s countywide sites, and the necessary mats, blankets, and meals for the nightly guests. Businesses, families, schools and other organizations are encouraged to donate to the Warm-Up campaign and getting involved is a great way to assist people experiencing homelessness directly.
The Freedom Warming Center is a designated 501c3 and donations are tax-deductible. The Warming Center’s work is made possible without help from our community partners, including: Trinity Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Carpinteria Community Church, First Congregational Church, City of Carpinteria, Peace Lutheran Church, Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Salvation Army, Doctors Without Walls, and many more.