Severe Weather Shelter Update

Many volunteers and moving parts are very close to coming together so that it appears possible 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. During the regular meeting of shelter volunteers and organizers today it was concluded that, following a training session to be held this Saturday, December 9th from 9-noon at the Mullis Center, a severe weather shelter may be ready to go as early as December 10th.

The Plan:

When severe weather sets in, the shelter is activated based on 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, shelter for families with children will be located at the Family Resource Center. At this point Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church offers one confirmed site, and we are hopeful for two more.

A van carrying all necessary supplies is staged and ready, and once the decision is made to open, the van with all supplies are delivered to the site and the shelter is set up and run by trained and other volunteers. Notification will be given on social media, via a large sign at the site, and also on the United Way phone (360) 378-4121. Those interested can call to leave a message or listen to a 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 over night shift must include at least two people willing to stay awake through the night – one of these two positions receives a $100 stipend.

The Challenges:
Because severe weather cannot be anticipated, a schedule of volunteers cannot be attempted until the weather sets in. Therefore, of utmost urgency is the need for a long call-list of trained and other volunteers.  Without volunteers the shelter simply will not be activated. We will have a video of the training available so that interested volunteer candidates can watch it at home. We currently have one site so we know that we can activate it should volunteers pan out, however, 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 get involved, please help this way:

  • Email the Coordinator at to learn about becoming a volunteer. Please include your phone number
  • Attend the volunteer training at Mullis Center this Saturday, December 9th, 9-12noon. Volunteers will be subject to a background check.
  • If you are interested in the overnight paid position, please contact the Shelter Coordinator at
  • Attend the next regular meeting of the shelter organizers on Tuesday, December 12th, Key Bank Basement, Noon

Thank you! Together we can make this a reality, and offer help to those in our midst whom are vulnerable to bitter cold!

Posted on December 7, 2017 at 5:42 am by

Categories: Community, Health & Wellness, Weather

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