Kingsland First UMC becomes temporary warming shelter

2/17/2014

In January, leaders at Kingsland First United Methodist Church began discussing ways to better utilize their existing facilities.   

With a desire to more effectively use their buildings to serve God and their community, one of the ideas mentioned was to use the church’s youth center, called The Warehouse, as a warming shelter to temporarily house homeless people during cold weather.

Kingsland First UMC member Don Koski contacted the Camden County Emergency Management Director, The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Missions for Camden to identify what the church would need to do and the requirements it would need to meet in order to be designated a shelter.

Little did he know that a cold front would hit the area just three days later, making emergency warming shelters an immediate and pressing need for those without shelter to find warmth during the freezing night.

“A few in the church were skeptical and thought we had tried to do something too big, but that didn’t change the weather forecast,” said Koski, who helped spearhead the effort. “We pressed on with the majority of the church members in full support. To be fair, everything happened so fast.”

Though the idea of a warming shelter had been discussed, it was part of a two-year plan church leaders were just starting to develop.

“We were thinking long term, maybe months or so,” he said.  “Three days later, however, the Salvation Army asked if we could set up a shelter that day due to the predicted heavy rains and freezing temperatures.”

Working with the Salvation Army and the Red Cross in Brunswick, enough cots, blankets and food to serve 50 guests were brought to the church.

The quickly assembled shelter offered much-needed temporary help during the brief cold spell.

Koski says church members learned from that first effort and have some fining tuning to do, but that “all of us acted as the one Body of Christ, trying to look out for our fellow man in a situation that required something to be done.”