Greensburg, Pa. (Jan. 12, 16) – Westmoreland County will open its first cold weather shelter this week, giving community members without reliable shelter or heat a place to turn as temperatures dip into the ‘teens. Open on nights 25 degrees or colder, the shelter will operate out of the Welcome Home Shelter in Greensburg and the Union Mission in Latrobe.
“The cold weather shelter is opening its doors just in time, and we couldn’t be happier,” United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania regional vice president Bobbi Watt Geer said. “This new initiative will fill a real void in our community’s basic needs network by providing shelter, warmth and support to individuals who may struggle to keep their homes heated or those struggling with shelter during the harshest months of the year.”
Prior to the cold weather shelter’s debut, Westmoreland County did not have shelter for non-disaster situations.
“There are emergency plans for crisis events like severe storms or power outages, but before this, there was no place for people to go on a frigid winter night for temporary lodging,” Watt Geer said.
“Most people may not think of a really cold night as a ‘disaster,’ but for the homeless, or people without heat or shelter, those nights are life threatening. We don’t want to leave anyone out in the cold,” Welcome Home Shelter house supervisor Lyndsay Burrik said.
When activated, the shelter’s two sites will be open from 8 pm – 8 am. The Welcome Home Shelter will house women and children, while the Union Mission will provide for men and up to two families.
During their stay, guests will have access to shelter and food. They also can receive referrals to additional services, depending on their circumstances.
“Like what we do year-round at the Mission or at Welcome Home, this cold weather shelter isn’t just about giving people a place to stay – it’s about giving people the support and the help they need to solve underlying problems and get back on their feet for good,” Union Mission executive director Dan Carney said.
To check if the shelter will open on a given evening, individuals can call 2-1-1, the Westmoreland County Crisis Line at 800-836-6010 or 724-552-0305, the Welcome Home Shelter at 724-838-9133 or the Union Mission at 724-539-3550.
United Way and a coalition of service providers and community leaders, including the Union Mission, the Welcome Home Shelter, Westmoreland Community Action, Feeding the Spirit, Excela Health and the Greensburg YMCA, spearheaded the shelter’s formation. The coalition selected the Welcome Home Shelter and the Union Mission as sites because of their reputation as well-qualified and compassionate human service providers as well as their long-time partnership with United Way.
The cold weather shelter is funded through United Way’s emergency needs budget. Private donors provided additional funds, including over $9,000 raised during the Pittsburgh Foundation’s recent Critical Needs Alert, a day of giving promoting homelessness services and organizations.
About United Way – United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, serving Allegheny, Westmoreland, Fayette & Southern Armstrong Counties, brings people together to tackle our community's most challenging issues, because no one person or organization can do it alone. United Way leads and mobilizes the caring power of individuals and organizations to help people in need measurably improve their lives. United Way creates long-lasting change and helps children and youth succeed, strengthens and supports families by promoting financial stability, ensures the safety and well-being of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities, and provides county-wide access to information and referral sources meeting basic needs. Learn more about United Way’s work in Westmoreland, Fayette and Southern Armstrong County at unitedway4u.org.