Youth Services System Seeks Support for 12th Annual Winter Freeze Shelter
For Immediate Release
Contact: Betsy Bethel-McFarland, 304-218-2894
WHEELING — Youth Services System is appealing to the community for support of the 12th annual YSS Winter Freeze Shelter. The opening is slated for early December in its new location at the former Ohio Valley Medical Center, 2000 Eoff St. An exact date is to be determined.
The new site, which formerly housed Hillcrest Behavioral Services, provides ample space to meet COVID-19 social distancing requirements set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for homeless shelters. Until now the shelter operated out of the YSS administrative office building at 15th and Jacob streets.
YSS opens the shelter to men and women each winter to help prevent death and serious illness of people experiencing homelessness. More than 1,500 guests have stayed at the shelter since 2009. It is considered a “low-bar” shelter because it has few restrictions on entry; for example, an ID is not required.
Funding is provided entirely by the local community, including businesses, foundations, churches and individuals.
“This year’s shelter is expected to cost about 50% more to operate because of the impact of COVID, owing to the anticipated increase in guests, the need for more employees, and COVID-related health and safety supplies,” YSS communications manager Betsy Bethel-McFarland said.
“We are grateful to the City of Wheeling for granting CDBG COVID emergency funds to provide the Winter Freeze Shelter with masks, gloves, cleaning supplies and other items needed to keep employees and guests safe, such as divider curtains and plexiglass,” she added.
As in years past, the Vineyard Church will cook and freeze many meals for shelter guests.
“Our neighbors in the Ohio Valley faithfully support this project. They care about the most vulnerable among us. Even amidst a pandemic, we live in a generous, compassionate community,” YSS CEO John Moses said.
Personal hygiene, cold weather gear and other items are needed. YSS has created an Amazon Wish List for the Winter Freeze Shelter so items can be delivered with a minimum of personal contact. It can be accessed at https://tinyurl.com/FreezeWishList. If using another online retail outlet, the address for deliveries is Youth Services System, 87 15th St., Wheeling, WV 26003.
Monetary donations may be made by check payable to Youth Services System with Winter Freeze Shelter on the memo line and mailed to YSS, P.O. Box 6041, Wheeling, WV 26003. Online donations are accepted on the YSS website, www.youthservicessystem.org, on the YSS Facebook page, or by texting YSSFREEZE to 44-321.
“We know it’s a tough time for many, and we are truly grateful for those able to give,” Bethel-McFarland said. She added a simple way to donate is by setting up an account with Amazon Smile or Kroger Community Rewards and choosing Youth Services System to receive benefits.
“If you’re already shopping with these companies for the holidays, it’s an easy way to help out because the companies themselves will take a percentage of your total purchase and donate it to YSS,” she said.