EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article reported that the warming center was only open on Monday, Jan. 23. This has since been corrected to show the warming center was open on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Due to harsh cold weather, the city of Albuquerque opened a warming center in Mesa Verde Community Center on Monday, Jan. 23 and Tuesday, Jan. 24. The hours of the center ran from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Katie Simon, the public affairs specialist for the Department of Family and Community Services, wrote to the Daily Lobo about the danger low temperatures can bring.
“The city of Albuquerque activates daytime warming centers when the temperature is below freezing and there is high wind and/or moisture — conditions when life and limb are most at risk for people living on the street,” Simon wrote.
The hours and amount of centers depend on the weather and number of volunteers on any given day. Along with providing warmth, there would be several other accommodations within the centers for those in need, according to Simon.
“A guest can spend as much time at the warming center as they would like within those open hours,” Simon wrote. “Warming centers offer hot coffee, soup, snacks, hygiene supplies, warm clothes and blankets.”
The centers rely on outside sources and volunteers to run; those interested in volunteering can go to the One Albuquerque Volunteers website. Some volunteer positions at the center require prior training.
“The Narcan and de-escalation trainings were one-day training to equip our volunteers with the skills to administer Narcan in case of a drug overdose and calm people down if a situation arose. Community center managers and other city facility staff are also on hand to assist,” Simon wrote.
The community centers that would house the warming centers still have normal operating hours and schedules, aside from a change in location for children’s programming.
“Adult programming, including the use of the gym and rec room, remain available to the community at large,” Simon wrote. “Children who attend the after-school program are redirected to another community center (Cesar Chavez Community Center) for the day.”
The warming centers are intended to run in conjunction with other shelters and meal sites run by partner organizations within the city. After daytime hours, those in the warming center are offered alternative options to spend the night safe from outside elements, according to Simon.
“Anyone at the warming center is offered transportation to the Westside Emergency Housing Center or the Gibson Health Hub (if appropriate) to stay safely overnight,” Simon wrote. “Our colleagues at Albuquerque Community Safety are able to transport guests to the warming center from around the city.”
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Carol Pierce, the Family & Community Services director, wrote briefly on the motivation to have the warming centers up and operating during the winter months.
“We are a compassionate city and warming centers keep people out of the elements,” Pierce wrote. “Using our existing city facilities during inclement weather is the right thing to do.”
The Albuquerque Community Safety department is able to transport those who are in need to the warming center if they are open. You can call 311 or 911 lines for dispatch, according to the city of Albuquerque.
Elizabeth Secor is the multimedia editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @esecor2003