WATTS Unveils New “Cooling Center” in Winchester to Help Homeless Beat the Heat

In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Robyn Miller, Executive Director of the Winchester Area Temporary Transitional Shelter, commonly known as WATTS.
To tackle the challenges faced by the homeless community during the intense summer heat, the Winchester Area Temporary Transitional Shelter (WATTS) has opened a new “Cooling Center.”  This initiative provides a safe, air-conditioned haven for those seeking a momentary escape from the scorching temperatures.  Located at Market Street United Methodist Church on 131 S. Cameron Street, the center is operational every day from noon to 5 pm.  The only exception is Thursdays when the center opens an hour earlier at 11 am and closes at 4 pm.  Beyond a cooler environment, the center also offers snacks, refreshing drinks, and occasional lunches, thanks to the dedication of local volunteers.  Robyn shed light on the establishment’s history and motivation for the Cooling Center.
WATTS’ roots trace back to a tragic incident 2008 when a homeless man lost his life to the freezing Winchester winter.  Faith-based leaders then congregated to conceive a solution that would prevent such incidents in the future.  The answer lay in their unused church buildings, which were equipped with facilities like kitchens and bathrooms.  This spark gave birth to WATTS in November 2009, with several churches offering their premises rotationally to house and feed the homeless during winter nights.  The endeavor saw immense success due to the collective effort of the community.  School bus drivers volunteered transport services, while others engaged in activities with the shelter guests or provided various services like haircuts and medical consultations.  WATTS’ initial vision has endured and expanded over the years, with the organization now able to accommodate up to 35 guests every night during winter.  However, the plight of the homeless community during summers was evident, thus leading to the inception of the Cooling Center.
Community members looking to lend a helping hand can volunteer at the Cooling Center. Tasks involve assisting managers with food and game sessions and ensuring guests’ comfort.  For those concerned about time constraints, even a short duration of assistance is appreciated.  It’s pertinent to note, however, that all volunteers should be above 18 years of age.
While the Cooling Center addresses an immediate need, WATTS has broader ambitions.  Their mission, as articulated in October 2022, pivots towards breaking the cyclical nature of homelessness.  By offering individuals the tools and resources needed to re-enter the workforce, WATTS envisions a future where everyone can be self-reliant and sheltered, regardless of circumstances.
For more information or to get involved, visit the WATTS website at watts-homelessshelter.org.


Via Royal Examiner.
Original article: https://royalexaminer.com/town-talk-watts-unveils-new-cooling-center-in-winchester-to-help-the-homeless-beat-the-heat/