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Brrrrr: Shelters opening ahead of extreme cold this weekend, volunteers needed

Several shelters are opening along the First Coast and in Georgia Friday-Sunday.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Cold weather shelters often rely on the warm hearts of volunteers and at The Well in Brunswick, they are shorthanded on help.

"A lot of people have said to us, 'Hey, listen. We have pre-existing conditions in our home and we can't volunteer right now,'" explained Tab Miller. 

The faith-based ministry becomes an overnight warming shelter when temperatures reach 36 degrees or below, which means a change to staff schedules to accommodate the 55 people who are expected to stay each night this weekend.

"It puts a lot of strain on our staff so we can't be here when we normally would be here during the day. So, we are looking for all the help we can get," he said.

Other shelters aren't just looking for volunteers, but space, including The Mission House in Jacksonville Beach.

"If people are out there, and they have an empty building, or an apartment complex or something that they think can be useful to get people back on their feet, we're willing to work with you," said CEO Carina Saladino. 

As the need for affordable housing grows, so does the need for non-profits to find the help to help those looking to get off the streets.

Sulzbacher leaders believe homelessness may get worse.  "It's difficult to know what to expect going forward, but with the continued effects of the pandemic, it is likely that it will continue to rise," said Chief Development Officer Eileen Briggs.

For Miller, that means providing a warm place away from the cold is even more important than ever knowing people aren't always looking for a hand out, but a hand up. 

"We have actually had people show up here who have knocked on our door and said to us, "I can't believe I'm here. I never thought this would happen to me,'" he said.

For more information on volunteer opportunities with The Well, click here.  

Shelters that will be open this weekend include:

The Well will serve as a warming shelter Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

For Sulzbacher, women and families seeking shelter from the cold can go to Sulzbacher Village at 5455 Springfield Blvd. and men can go to Sulzbacher's Downtown Campus at 611 East Adams St. in Jacksonville.

The cold weather shelter for Mission House at Jacksonville Beach will be at the parish hall at St. Paul's by the Sea Episcopal Church. It will be open from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m.

The City of Fernandina Beach, in partnership with the Coalition for the Homeless of Nassau County, will open a cold weather shelter at the MLK Jr. Auditorium at 1200 Elm St. Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 6 p.m. and you must arrive before 10 p.m. to be admitted.