Ocean City Shelter Seeks Volunteers

OCEAN CITY – A local shelter is seeking volunteers to register and assist guests as winter weather sets in.

On Wednesday, Jan. 4, OCMD Cold Weather Shelter will hold a training session for those interested in volunteering. As temperatures drop, Cold Coordinator Jason Long said the organization is seeking volunteers to check in guests and oversee nighttime shifts when the shelter is open.

“Our guests are so thankful to those of us who are able to donate some of their time and nights to give them a warm place to sleep,” he said. “The more volunteers we have, the less that everyone has to do.”

Since 2014, the Cold Weather Shelter has served men and women seeking a warm place to stay during cold winter nights. Located at 103rd Street, in the retreat center of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, the shelter opens on nights when the temperature drops to 25 degrees with wind chill.

And while the shelter is open annually from Dec. 1 to March 31, Long said the building started taking in guests as early as November this year.

“It may have been done once before, but it’s very rare,” he said, “only when the temps are well below average near the end of November.”

As temperatures continue to plummet, however, Long said volunteers will be needed to welcome and assist guests. While the shelter currently averages 10 to 12 guests each night, the building can serve as many as 24 people.

“We are open 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., with registration volunteers being there from 4:30-7 p.m. and overnight volunteers being there from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” he said. “Every shift needs one male and one female volunteer.”

Once doors open, Long said, volunteers are tasked with welcoming, feeding and monitoring guests.

“The registration volunteers help welcome our guests and sign them in and serve dinner to them,” he explained. “Our overnight volunteers are there to make sure there are no issues overnight and help with laundry services.”

Long noted that while several volunteers are able to assist with dinners, only 15 handle registration and overnight duties.

“Right now, we have many volunteers having to be on shift multiple nights a week,” he said. “The more volunteers we have, the less that everyone has to do. Even once or twice a month would be a huge help.”

To that end, the Cold Weather Shelter will host a training session for prospective volunteers. The event, which begins at 1 p.m., will be held at the shelter.

“Please come if you’d like to learn more about how you could help,” Long said.

For more information, email the shelter at [email protected] or follow and message the “OCMD Cold Weather Shelter” Facebook page. The shelter accepts men and women, but no children at this time.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.