Akron Overnight Emergency Shelter Preparing to Open

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AKRON, Ohio — With temperatures expected to plummet into the teens over the next few nights, Akron’s nighttime emergency shelter is set to open Wednesday through Friday this week.

Accommodations at 111 E. Voris St. provide a safe place for residents of unprotected areas to sleep when winter temperatures get dangerously cold. Business hours are from 18:30 to 8:30 at night.

What you need to know

  • Akron’s nighttime emergency shelter will be open this Wednesday through Friday
  • The shelter at 111 E. Voris St. provides a safe place to sleep when temperatures are dangerously cold.
  • The facility is run by volunteers, mostly from the Peter Morin Center
  • At the shelter, you will be provided with sleeping quarters with thick mattresses and blankets, hot dinners and breakfasts, and bus passes.

The accommodations are funded by the city of Akron with the help of Community Support Services and are run mostly by volunteers from the Peter Morin Center, said volunteer organizer Michelle Hopp.

The Peter Morin Center is an all-volunteer outreach ministry in South Akron that started as a drop-in center and has grown to provide a range of services for the homeless.

Emergency accommodations are in need of volunteers who can sign up online to fill several positions during opening hours this week.

Roles range from cooks and servers responsible for creating and serving the hot meals served to getting rid of workers who wake guests up in the morning and help pack their bags.

“I think we’re setting it up in a highly organized way to maintain some kind of peacekeeping and make sure everything goes smoothly,” she said.

Hopp said the property screens guests as they enter, keeps them free of weapons they may be carrying, and security is available throughout the night.

Having such a structure helps reduce the likelihood that potential volunteers will be hesitant about helping with overnight tasks, she said.

“I think it helps to be really clear about what the expectations are,” she said. will help us get more volunteers.”

Roles are clearly defined, but when volunteers come together, they all work together as a team.

CSS said this would also include CSS caseworkers who intervene if those staying at the shelter want to find permanent housing.

More than 4,000 Summit County residents, including 774 children, were served through Continuum of Care in 2021, according to the latest annual report. The Continuum of Care is made up of about 50 agencies that provide services to combat homelessness.

The work of the volunteers is fulfilling, and guests occasionally express their gratitude to the volunteers, Hopp said.

“I heard some really sweet and slightly unexpected comments like, ‘Oh, you guys have the best coffee in town,’ or ‘You guys are the nicest people around,'” she said. “In my experience, people are very appreciative and in some ways touched by the volunteers and their kindness.”

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In 2021, more than 4,000 Summit County residents, including 774 children, will be served through the Continuum of Care, which is made up of nearly 50 agencies providing services to combat homelessness. (Spectrum News/Jennifer Kong)

Ms. Hopp said she has spent a full year as a volunteer organizer at the overnight shelter who gives her time, even though she is caring for six children.

She was a volunteer last year, but a lingering and brutally cold weather forced her accommodation to stay open for about 45 nights.

By the end of the season, she had become a volunteer host and the volunteers were starting to feel burnt out.

“But when we didn’t have everyone and everything we needed, it felt like we had very little,” she said.

Most of the Overnight Shelter volunteers, who also volunteer at the Peter Maurin Center, are committed to working with this vulnerable population, Hopp said.

Emergency accommodation was previously hosted at the center at 1096 South Main Street, according to Jim Olenga, executive director of the Morin Center.

But sometimes up to 50 people had to be accommodated overnight, and the center didn’t have enough space for everyone seeking relief from the frigid weather, he said.

The city opens warming centers in some community centers when temperatures drop only during the day, but shelters in most other areas are usually full, especially for women.

“When the weather is bad, the only game in town is us at 111 East Boris Street,” Orenga said.

Accommodation includes separate bedrooms with thick mattresses and blankets, hot dinners and breakfasts, and bus passes. Bus passes are handed out before guests leave, he said, so they can stay a little warmer.

Among the services offered at Maurin Center is lunch served every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday from 11am to 2pm.

The food pantry, provided in partnership with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, is open from 10am to noon on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month.

Orenga said a new service was recently added in which DoorDash picks up groceries and delivers them to about 40 households who can’t pick them up.


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