People seeking shelter from the frigid, snowy and wet weather of late fall will have a safe place to stay in Lamoille County come Friday when the homeless shelter in Hyde Park opens for the winter.
Lamoille Community House, which runs the modest yellow home at 103 Main Street, isn’t allowed to open until Nov. 15, per its village zoning permit, but shelter manager Jacquie Mauer said volunteers and community partners have been helping to keep tabs on people to make sure they’re not out in the cold until Friday.
“We’ve already got calls from four people who are being proactive in looking for a place to stay, which is always good to see,” Mauer said Tuesday. “I feel like we’re in a really great momentum. We’ll be ready.”
Lamoille Community House is the culmination of an effort started the day after Christmas, 2017, when Father Rick Swanson of St. John’s in the Mountains Episcopal church in Stowe opened up the church doors to anyone who needed respite.
Other churches followed, and then Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux quietly opened up the doors of the yellow house in Hyde Park — the department owns the building — and turned it into a shelter.
Marcoux and the Community House organization last year applied for a zoning permit, which took longer than expected to be approved and necessitated a temporary shelter in a former hotel in Morrisville owned by local businessman Howard Manosh.
Now, the shelter offers bus service for its guests to and from the house, and to and from appointments with doctors, social service workers and the like. Lamoille Valley Ford in Hardwick gave the organization a 15-passenger van.
Mauer said she’d like to see the shelter eventually be allowed to open in mid-October, but added, “Still, this is the earliest we’ve ever opened.”
In the meantime, the state extended its hotel voucher program through Tuesday of this week, and “direct risk providers are helping out with the last push” until Friday, Mauer said.
Mauer said the organization has a solid core group of staff and volunteers and have been “training so much” in preparation for the opening.
The group is still looking for some people to volunteer for supper service at the house, which can be done at the Community House website: lamoillecommunityhouse.weebly.com.
People can also donate to the shelter on the website or call the shelter at 802-521-7943.
“We always need to fulfill our budget, so even small amounts are helpful,” Mauer said.
Mauer said that social services providers have already indicated that having a stable and consistent shelter has helped their jobs, too. It’s a lot easier to make your appointment if you’ve a had a good night’s sleep and a nutritious breakfast.
“We’re fixing a lot of little gaps,” Mauer said. “Everybody is able to do their jobs a little better.”