Church offers warming center on cold nights

CENTRAL POINT — Volunteers at the new Calvary Outreach Warming Station are hoping the space will provide lifesaving warmth for the region's homeless on dangerously cold nights.

The station officially opened its doors Tuesday at Calvary Temple Church, 513 E. Pine St. The warming station will be open any night, Sunday through Thursday, that temperatures dip to 32 degrees or below. Warming station hours are 8 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. For details, or to see whether the station is open, call 664-3226 or 778-6505.

Calvary Outreach is similar to a shelter, with food, areas to rest and friendly faces. But the "warming station" distinction allows volunteers to provide a needed service without navigating complex federal guidelines for shelters, said Debbie Saxbury, coordinator.

Unlike other shelters, Calvary Outreach will take pets.

" 'Warming station' means come in off the street to get warm," Saxbury said. "Calling it a warming station means we don't have to promise to give them anything — although we are."

Saxbury, a longtime Central Point resident, recalled running into a high school friend at a local park last year. Though popular and successful in high school, the man was and remains homeless, with no place to go on cold nights. She then got the idea for the warming station when she read reports of Carl Luther Olsen, an 85-year-old homeless man who was found dead in north Medford on Nov. 9.

"When it got cold recently, I wondered about my friend," she said. "Then I heard about the one who died.

"It really doesn't take much to help people out, she said. "Just getting in from the cold and being warm seems like something the community should be able to provide."

Rita McGraw, pastoral assistant at Calvary Temple Church, said congregation members jumped at the chance to establish a warming station on-site.

"We believe in being part of the community, so when we were approached that there was a need, we felt like that was what we should be doing," McGraw said.

"We weren't even sure how it would work. We heard there was a need and we said, 'All right, let's do it.' Then we said, 'OK, let's figure out how it works.' We're pretty much winging it, but it's the right thing to do."

Saxbury said her high school friend's situation was a prime example of how quickly "someone can end up homeless."

"Like with my friend, I remember him being like anyone else. "¦ People will think what they think, but the reality is that (homeless people) were all somebody's brother or sister or friend "¦ somebody's baby," she said.

"They're people just like us and we're supposed to help each other."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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