Severe weather shelter updates

  • Wed Dec 6th, 2017 3:54pm
  • Life

Submitted by the severe weather shelter project

A Severe Weather Shelter in Friday Harbor may be close at hand.

Three things must align in order to activate a shelter at the onset of severe weather: Cold, volunteers and a site. Following a training session to be held this Saturday, Dec. 9 from 9 to noon at the Mullis Center, a severe weather shelter may be ready to go as early as Dec. 10.

When severe weather sets in, the shelter is activated based on the agreement of the coordinator and two other steering committee members and based on the availability of a site as well as a minimum of six volunteers. Shelter for individuals will be located at rotating sites. When activated, the shelter for families with children will be located at the San Juan Island Family Resource Center. Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church offers one confirmed site. Should no other site become available, it remains to be seen whether or not a shelter at one site through the winter is feasible.

To prepare the site, a van carrying all necessary supplies will be staged and ready. Once the decision is made to open, the van with supplies will be delivered to the site. The shelter will be set up and ran by volunteers. Notification will be given on social media, a large sign at the site and also on the United Way answering machine service at 360-378-4121. Those interested can call to leave a message or listen to the current recorded message. Each shelter activation includes three volunteer shifts, and each shift must have two volunteers scheduled for a total of six volunteers per night. Likewise, each shift must have one fully trained volunteer, and each overnight shift must include at least two people willing to stay awake through the night. One of these two positions receives a $100 stipend.

Since severe weather cannot be anticipated, a schedule of volunteers cannot be attempted until the weather sets in. Therefore, a long call-list of trained and other volunteers is necessary. Without volunteers, the shelter simply will not be activated. A videographer to record the Dec. 9 training has been confirmed, so interested volunteer candidates can watch it at home.

Email the coordinator at to learn about becoming a volunteer or paid staff. Include a phone number. Volunteers will be subject to a background check.

Attend the next regular meeting of the shelter organizers on Tuesday, Dec. 12 in the KeyBank basement.