by Anne Glasser
Something beautiful is happening in Everybody’s Home Town: people are putting their differences aside and coming together to help the homeless on our coldest nights.
Operation Deep Freeze (ODF) is an emergency shelter that opens from 6pm to 6am, offering beds and warm meals to the homeless when the weather is expected to be freezing or below.
The program started over a decade ago in response to a local homeless person freezing to death with only a flyer for a free meal and 72 cents in change. In response, the Coalition for Compassion and Justice (CCJ) quickly opened an emergency shelter for the homeless on freezing nights. The program lasted for about five years, but a lack of funding forced a shutdown.
This winter the Quad City Interfaith Council (QCIC) has stepped up to organize bringing back this important service to the community. QCIC is a group of faith-based organizations working together under the mission, “In all our efforts we strive to promote human dignity.”
The Salvation Army is partnering with QCIC and CCJ to keep the doors open during freezing nights at its emergency shelter at 237 South Montezuma St. downtown. Volunteers check the weather forecast every morning to determine whether the shelter should open that night. If conditions warrant, they call various organizations, including the Prescott Public Library, fire and police departments, as well as those who signed up for the dinner that night. For details, contact CCJ at 928-445-8382.
In years past any individual or group could sign up to bring meals in, often resulting in the homeless getting homemade meals. With the Covid risk, however, this year all meals have to be made in commercial kitchens. The Salvation Army has made its kitchen available to those who want to make fresh, hot meals but don't have access to another commercial kitchen.
CCJ is handling the finances and The Salvation Army is hosting the shelter, which can hold up to 30 each night; women and children are driven over to the Prescott Area Women’s Shelter after dinner. In 2019 The Salvation Army hosted 1,262 guests and served 1,302 meals. The cost last year to ODF, which included staffing, housing, and food, was $29,000.
Molly Friebott of QCIC stated, “Our first goal at Quad City Interfaith Council is to get our $15,000 pledge fully funded. Our secondary goal is to help with the nightly meal list to take some of the pressure off The Salvation Army ….We are facing new challenges with the Covid pandemic, in that providing meals at night becomes more difficult. QCIC is working on partnerships with local businesses and restaurants to help provide safely prepared individual meals for ODF clients.”
QCIC, CCJ, the Greater Yavapai County Coalition (GYCC), 5enses, Faith Bridge and The Salvation Army have all been reaching out to many local restaurants to help in this endeavor, and the response has been amazing!
A special thank-you goes out to the restaurants helping out our homeless in the area. Check 5ensesmag.com for a list of participating restaurants.
What can you do to help? QCIC has started a meal train where you, as an individual or organization, can sign up to take a meal in if ODF is open that night. Please remember that every meal must be made in a commercial kitchen. You can sign up at mealtrain.com/7yk1q9. If the forecast calls for freezing weather on the night you‘ve signed up for, someone from CCJ will call you to make arrangements for food.
Monetary donations are always welcome, too. To ensure that 100% of your money goes to ODF, please either donate through yavapaiccj.org/donate or contact Allison Lenocker at CCJ (QCICprescott@gmail.com).
To see people from different faiths and political views putting differences aside and working together to help our community is inspiring, giving me hope for Everybody’s Home Town. After all, we are all human first.
Anne Glasser is a homeschooling mom of two teens. She is passionate about all things LGBTQ+.