By Jessica Mathews /

A nonprofit organization that provides emergency winter sheltering services to homeless adult men and women in Livingston County has completed its 5th sheltering season and has plans to pivot back to a congregate setting.

The Severe Weather Network Livingston County Homeless Shelter concluded the season on April 30th and provided 1,289 shelter nights to 31 adults ranging in ages from 19 to 72. A meal team of chefs prepared and delivered 1,160 packaged meals to guests.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the non-profit was required to pivot this past season from a congregate shelter setting to a motel shelter setting. Co-Chair Diane Duncan said overall, the operational change to a motel shelter presented many great challenges. She says the Board of Directors recognized immediately that sequestering guests in a motel room without immediate access to community volunteers, board members and social services, etc. was not beneficial to guests nor the community.

For those reasons, intensive case management was added to programming where each guest was required to meet with the staff case manager on a regular basis to create and implement a plan to secure employment and housing. Duncan says that programming policy combined with the utilization of financial donations to cover initial rental housing costs proved to be incredibly successful as nearly half of all guests secured employment and sustainable housing over a 5-month period.

The Severe Weather Network will begin the 2021/2022 season on November 1st, one month earlier than in years past. The Center will return to Chilson Hills Baptist Church and offer a congregate shelter setting operated by staff, SWN Board members, and 450 trained community volunteers. The board is said to be actively planning for the 2021/2022 season through various fundraising initiatives including an online Giving Grid in which donors can share pictures, words of encouragement, and messages that will be printed and displayed at the Severe Weather Center next season.

More information is available in the attached press release.