Utica, N.Y.—The Morrow Warming Center located in the basement of the Cornerstone Community Church, is offering the local homeless population a second chance.
“We have a lot of great shelters here in the area but we saw the need for a compliment to all of them,” Mike Ballman, Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church said. “A lot of our existing shelters people in order to stay there have to be completely clean and sober and so we are a place that is a compliment to them that allows people who are still in the process and not completely clean and sober to be able to stay.”
The center is considered a last chance for those with behavioral issues and addictions, who are turned away from other shelters or are no longer welcome there. The center opens at 8 p.m., to anyone 18 and older and provides warm meals, a bed, a shower and laundry.
“So we hope that safety and the feeling of being served somewhere and a place where they matter will help them feel that if they are cared for they can care for themselves and have the permission to do that,” Ballman said.
Since opening in December they’ve had over 2,000 guests stay the night. the center also provides services with hopes of providing sustainable housing. The center closes at 7 a.m., which means 25 to 30 people are left with nowhere to go for over 12 hours a day. This proved to be a problem for the center, they decided to team up with the city, which gives them work to do during the day.
“We take a crew of 10 to 12 people and we go and we work anywhere the Department of Public Works and the park departments want us to help out with litter, weed whacking, painting fire hydrants and lampposts and picking up litter and all kinds of things,” Ballman explained.