RED WING — Those who are looking for a safe, warm place to stay in Red Wing will be heading back to church for the upcoming winter.
Liz Magill, coordinator with Hope & Harbor Homeless Shelter in Red Wing, said after renting a house during the winter of 2020-2021 to serve as a homeless shelter, the organization will return to the model it used in the winter of 2019-2020 where it rotated individuals through churches around Red Wing.
During its first year serving the homeless, Hope & Harbor offered individuals 561 nights of stay, moving between four churches from week to week Dec. 1, 2019, through Feb. 29, 2020.
Last winter, Hope & Harbor utilized a house where it could offer space for up to 10 guests a night because COVID-19 safety measures prevented the churches from accepting guests.
The organization expanded the time of its service, opening on Nov. 1 and closing at the end of March, and provided 783 nights of stay for individuals.
"We can accept 24 people at the churches," Magill said.
This year, Hope & Harbor has six churches signed up to help, and Magill said she's hoping to sign up three more. Rather than move guests once a week, Magill said, the churches will offer a home for guests for two weeks at a time.
The organization has raised nearly $60,000 for the winter, Magill said, through local donations and with grants from local businesses and organizations such as the United Way, Red Wing Shoes, the Jones Family Foundation, Wings Foundation, Mayo Health Center and Xcel Energy. The money is mostly being used to pay overnight volunteers.
"It's hard to ask someone to give up a night's sleep," Magill said.
Two volunteers will stay with guests overnight in the churches, she said, and at least one host will need to be awake at all times. The overnight hosts will then serve breakfast in the morning. Guests will also be served dinner at night.
Magill said once a new executive director is named at the Red Wing YMCA, she'll work with them again to allow their guests to shower at the YMCA. Red Wing Coin Laundry will also allow Hope & Harbor guests to do their laundry for free, and the organization will reimburse the laundromat each month.
While the logistics of offering basic living services is an effort by the whole community, Magill said it is worth it when you know you've helped someone get through a tough time.
In Rochester, the facilities for homeless individuals have been open all year. The Rochester Community Warming Center on Fourth Street Southeast, across from the Government Center, is open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and offers 42 beds per night.
While Olmsted County owns the Rochester Community Warming Center, the center is operated by Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota.
The other option in Olmsted County is Dorothy Day Hospitality House, 703 First St. SW. Hours are 4 p.m. to 9 a.m., and dinner is served each night at 6 p.m., and breakfast is served each morning.
Like Red Wing's shelter, homeless shelters in Winona are preparing to open Nov. 1.
The Winona Community Warming Center, also operated by Catholic Charities, offers 20 beds at Edge Church at 69 E. Third St. in downtown Winona. Like the shelter in Rochester, it is open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and offers shower and laundry facilities at the site. While meals aren't served, there are snacks available for guests.
The organization also operates the Winona Community Day Center where individuals can go to stay warm on cold days. The Winona Day Center also offers resources for individuals to apply for assistance such as short-term housing and employment services.