With new staffing to cover most graveyard shifts, program manager Lynelle Wilcox has been able to put a more concentrated effort into increasing outreach and bettering relations with the community surrounding the SafeSleep Women's Shelter on Front Street. Beds at the shelter are currently mostly occupied, but Lynelle has been spending time at the shower truck site run by ARCHES to volunteer and talk about SafeSleep and other warming center operations as colder weather moves in. In addition to this, SafeSleep has been in communication with other shelters in the area to talk about the different supports they offer, in the hopes that new ideas could contribute towards SafeSleep's goal of meeting people where they are at. Some ideas relate to budgeting, saving money, employment options, and a focus on getting rent-ready, which may look different for everyone.
Over the last few months a camp has sprung up around the shelter, including structures that blocked the sidewalk. With this came instances of volatility, violence, and trash being spread around the area. The campers had settled beyond the shelter's property line, preventing SafeSleep from utilizing its authority to ask them to leave. Therefor, a request was submitted to the city of Salem to act and help get the area cleared. There are more homeless individuals now than ever, with no where for these people to go. The city is working hard to find places for them to stay, but the situation is tough as the need is greater than the resources. That being said, the city deemed it a necessary request and came to post signs and perform a sweep. It is difficult to have to act on the situation, with many of the campers outside the shelter experiencing physical and/or mental disabilities which may prevent them from meeting criteria to be in a shelter. It's not viable to have a homeless camp right outside of a women's shelter, however, and for the continued safety of the women staying at the shelter, action had to be taken. That being said, SafeSleep did make efforts to share shelter options with campers, and in at least one situation, asked DHS to send a caseworker to check on eligibility for assisted living for a significantly disabled individual.
As stated before, the shelter is at full capacity for the time being. Volunteers are still needed and greatly appreciated! SafeSleep United is open from 6:00pm to 8:00am every day. Shifts vary from opening to closing, so send program manager Lynelle Wilcox an e-mail at email@example.com to share what hours work for you. If you'd like to speak over the phone, call 971-570-4213.
Program Manager's Statement
This work has become a calling for me because it keeps showing me where my premises about poverty and homelessness are wrong, so I can shift to become more accurate in my thoughts and my heart.
And because a smile and hello can enable people to feel seen, and grow hope, and that can change everything. And because when we offer kindness, dignity, and respect to people who are often considered to be unworthy and less-than, people may begin to feel worthy and grow hope about their future.
And because people who are not homeless might witness our actions and may begin to question and reconsider their own beliefs. Because by doing this work, we are also planting seeds that might change others’ biases, minds, and hearts to believe the reality that people who are unsheltered are worthy, valuable, fellow human beings.
And because when ladies might sleep safely, and grow hope, they might breathe, heal, and pursue their hopes and dreams.
-Lynelle Wilcox, SafeSleep United Program Manager
Visit often to see the latest on what we're working on to support our region.