October 14, 2005
Several religious organizations in Charlottesville are joining together for the second year in a row to help give homeless people a place to sleep during the winter months.
It all started when several ministers, priests, and other heads of worship services here in Charlottesville noticed several homeless people on their doorsteps sleeping. That is when they said it was time to practice what they preached, and lend a helping hand.
"This is for people who literally had no where else to go and would otherwise be out on the streets, in the woods, sleeping behind garbage dumpsters, sleeping in their cars," said PACEM Executive Director, Dave Norris.
The People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry (PACEM), provides anyone who needs a place sleep a warm alternative.
"This winter we'll be able to stay open 6 months, instead of 4 months last winter. We've been very pleased at the support of our fundraisers and congregations to be able to do more this year for those who have less," Norris explained.
In only one year the organization has help more than a 150 citizens of Charlottesville with their rotating shelter program. During the next six months more than 36 religious organizations will donate rooms for those who need shelter from the chilly nights, and this Saturday, they kick off their second year of Winter Shelter for the Homeless.
"We will be busy tomorrow night. We expect quite a number of people to be needing our services, but that's what we're here for, and we're happy to be able to provide that service," Norris said.
Last year there were no reported deaths due to cold weather, and some say it had a lot to do with the generosity of PACEM organizers opening their hearts.
PACEM will start helping those who need places to sleep at the First Presbyterian Church at 500 Park Street this Saturday from 4:30-6:00 p.m. You can also visit their website at www.pacemshelter.org, or give them a call at (434) 465-1392.