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Abraham Connection homeless shelter opens for the season

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Photo by Pat Sunderland Marj Seely, Jesse Rosin and Elaine Heinz prepared breakfast for ministerial alliance members who gathered to pray for the shelter last week. The trio from All Saints Lutheran Church cooks breakfast for the homeless every Tuesday mo

On Nov. 1, Abraham Connection opened its eighth season of shelter for homeless men, women and families.

To kick off operations, area pastors gathered at the shelter the morning of Nov. 2 to pray for the homeless and for the volunteers who keep the doors open during the harsh winter months.

In the seventh season, and the first full season at the shelter at the corner of 5th and Silver, the homeless shelter provided 2,651 bed nights to 157 different guests.

Cheryl Oeltjenbruns, board president, said 11 individuals sought shelter the first night of the 2017-18 season, "which is about what I expected."

This year, operations will run through March 31, depending on the weather. "We decided to cut the season down to five months, but may stay open a few more days in April if the weather is cold."

She added, "If it's really warm, it just doesn't make sense to stay open. We're still primarily volunteer driven, and in April our volunteers start moving on to other things."

This year volunteers are staffing the facility from 6 p.m. to midnight. Two paid staff members will work from midnight to 8 a.m. A paid employee also handles intake every evening.

The midnight to 6 a.m. shift proved tough to fill, plus Oeltjenbruns said the board recognized the need to provide as much consistency as possible to keep the operation running smoothly.

November is National Homeless and Hunger Awareness Month, Abraham Connection is planning "Dine Out for Delta County," where participating restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds to the shelter on Wednesday, Nov. 15. See the ad in this week's DCI for more information on that fundraiser, as well as a countywide supply drive to be held Saturday, Nov. 18. A "wish list" for supplies can be found on the Abraham Connection's website, deltaabra

hamconnection.org. A training schedule for volunteers has also been posted on the website.

Oeltjenbruns said the Abraham Connection is also looking for committed individuals willing to serve on the board of directors. "We are a working board," she said. "We expect board members to cover shifts, help with fundraising and pitch in to maintain the facility."

Interested individuals are encouraged to call the shelter at 773-8290.

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