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SOS to take over operations of the Willand Drive Emergency Warming Center, starting 11/25

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SOS Recovery has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Strafford County for operations of the Willand Drive Emergency Warming Center, in Somersworth, starting November 25th, 2022 through March 31, 2023.

The Warming Center will be opened when weather conditions warrant the opening. SOS Recovery has worked with and collaborated with Dr. Tory Jennison and the Tri-City Mayors and Emergency Management Directors on the conditions in which the Warming Center will be opened. A minimum 24-hour notice will be delivered before each activation, longer when possible.

SOS Recovery has made projections based on the last few years of weather patterns that it’s expected to be open 70-90 nights between November 25th, 2022 and March 31st, 2023. Due to the unpredictability of New England weather, this is only an estimate.

To reiterate, this is designed as an “emergency” Warming Center for extreme weather. This is not a seasonal shelter and although everyone involved recognizes the need for other housing options, a seasonal shelter can result in barriers that might make access impossible for those who need the low-barrier approach of this model.

SOS will be conducting at least 3 volunteer orientation trainings at the Warming Center between now and November 25th. Organizers are asking that if you wish to volunteer that you please start the process online.

In an effort to maintain safety and be conscious of public health SOS will be requiring a variety of vaccinations including COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots for volunteers.

In order to work within the Warming Center as a volunteer SOS will utilize the same requirements as those of Greater Seacoast Community Health, the parent organization. All staff, volunteers, and participants will be required to mask while inside the Warming Center.

SOS will be hiring a Warming Center Manager for a full-time position throughout the season as well as a Warming Center Supervisor and two part-time Warming Center coordinators.

SOS has a need to hire six to ten “per-diem” Warming Center coordinators. If you are interested in working in any paid staff positions, please send an email and resume to John Burns at John@sosrco.org. Paid “per-diem” Warming Center coordinators will be able to work anywhere from four to twelve-hour shifts between the hours of 4pm and 10am.

When activated, the Warming Center will open at 4pm to staff and 5pm for participants and will remain open until 9am for participants with one hour of closing and clean up from 9am-10am each morning.

SOS will be utilizing a van and another from the City of Dover to supplement COAST bus transportation from the center each morning.

It will be essential that we have a number of volunteers throughout every shift of each eighteen-hour overnight activations every night the center is open to help staff it so that SOS can maintain adequate coverage.

The focus will rely heavily on coordinating care for individuals utilizing the center in an effort to identify permanent housing solutions and meet basic life needs including medical care, mental health support, and substance use treatment, and recovery support.

SOS will be inviting agencies that work in the region to a meeting to assist with coordinating efforts on Monday, November 14th, and will send invites out.

SOS will be partnering with a number of agencies, including Red’s Good Vibes who will be helping with some of the food provisions. SOS will offer training for volunteers and staff for serv-safe certifications for individuals interested in helping out with food.

Community Action Partnership of Strafford County has been assisting with the transition already for SOS to operate the center. Organizers have been in contact and received support and a commitment to collaborate on care coordination with the Strafford County Community Care Team and members. In addition, SOS has had direct ongoing contact and discussions as we prepare with other local agencies such as Waypoint, Infinity Peer Support, the NH Harm Reduction Coalition, Wentworth Douglass Hospital, Goodwin Community Health, and many others.

Organizers hope to continue the tradition of the Warming Center, engaging the entire community and local faith-based organizations to support these efforts. Efforts such as these have always been driven by the incredible support of Strafford County and organizers are confident we will once again set the bar in NH for a robust approach that will save lives, secure some basic needs for those most marginalized while we empower individuals and give voices to those who may not believe they have one.

SOS has always actively supported those we serve with the belief there should be “nothing about us, without us.” Organizers intend to incorporate that motto into the culture of ongoing operations with every participant.

SOS organizers say they are grateful for this opportunity and look forward to supporting the opportunity for change, joy, and hope in the lives of those they serve.

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This press release was submitted by SOS Recovery.

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