Janesville Men’s Shelter Gears Up For Winter

With most of the area under a winter weather advisory on Friday, Janesville’s rotating men’s shelter was gearing up for a full house.

Wind chills were below 0 degrees on Thursday night and volunteers at Cargill United Methodist Church are gearing up for an increased need in shelter for Janesville’s homeless men.

“I expect all of the 30 here last night to be here,” said Leslie Delo, GIFTS coordinator at Cargill .

This week, Cargill is hosting the city’s rotating shelter program known as GIFTS. The program runs from October through April.

Since 2007, area churches have been providing meals and shelter for about 25 men a week. Delo said they are going to need more bunks.

“With the number of job losses we’ve had here in the state of Wisconsin, the demand for help is much greater than it was even a few years ago,” Delo said. “In our program alone here at this church, we’ve had five new individuals come in during the last three days.”

Volunteer David Kemp is one of more than a dozen volunteers. He spends the night at the church with the men. He said volunteering gives him an opportunity to help his fellow neighbors.

“I’m just really proud of Janesville and all of the churches involved in this,” he said. “I come (in) earlier than I need to be, to be able to meet the men when they come in and have a meal with them and get to know them.”

Delo said the good news is that most of the men they are serving this year are new faces. In other words, many of the men the church served last year have found housing. He said he remains optimisticthe need for the program will decrease as the economy gets better.

“Everybody is trying to expand and find places to put them when they come in so that you don’t have anybody that has to stay out in the cold,” Delo said.

Cargill Methodist Church will host the GIFTS program the rest of this week. They are also collecting gently used coats, work boots and other items to help the men brave the cold during the day.

For more information on the program, visit their website.