January 24, 2013
Snow dusted benches and campsites around Charlottesville won't be occupied by anything Thursday night, thanks to local shelters and programs like PACEM.
"If you're outside tonight, even if you have 10 blankets and sleeping bags you're still gonna freeze. The idea of PACEM is bringing people inside who don't have a place to stay," said PACEM program director, Jesse Boeckermann. "We're basically able to find a place and a roof over your head so you don't have to be out in the cold all night."
Area inter-faith centers make the program work by providing that roof and place to stay. Shelters like the one at the United Methodist Church in Charlottesville have been very busy this week.
"We're at capacity tonight. We've been at capacity the past week with the cold weather at our men's shelter and our women's shelters numbers are as high as they have been the entire season this week," said Boeckermann.
Local churches also provide lots of volunteers who have come back year after year because busy and cold weeks like this build special friendships.
"This is just a great time to get to spend time with them, sit next to them before they go to bed at night and it's a really unique experience. It's a beneficial experience for all of us," said Josh Bascom, a PACEM volunteer and Charlottesville resident.
Bascom says people who have been in and out of PACEM shelters over the years, stay familiar and friendly faces around town all year round.
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