The Victor Valley Community Warming Shelter will soon be closing its doors after an extended season due to the pandemic. So far, approximately 126 guests have found a way off the streets with their assistance, as opposed to only five last season.
In March of this year, the coronavirus forced the warming shelter to become a 24-hour facility so that the homeless could have a place to isolate themselves from the virus. Although they had strict rules, positive changes did happen for those who decided to abide by them.
The shelter turning into a 24-hour facility was a positive change for the homeless because it provided them with stability and normalcy. Other shelters in the local area require guests to be drug and alcohol-free before setting foot inside the premises. This rule, while prudent, unfortunately, leaves many with nowhere else to go. So, it takes away the possibility for positive change. The warming shelter had no such substance-free rule, and because of this was able to bring hope to those who may have felt hopeless. The facility provided guests with three square meals a day and a comfortable place to sleep. A big change compared to life on the streets. Guests at the shelter were able to relax and rest without having to worry about someone taking their belongings, or where their next meal would come from. As the guests caught up on rest, for some, unresolved traumas began resurfacing, forcing them to finally deal with the wounds. Volunteers at the shelter were also able to spend time with the guests and get to know them. This led to the evaluation and diagnosis of ailments some unwittingly suffered from. The volunteers monitored the guests and made sure those on medications stayed on them. Guests who had medicines that required refrigeration were accommodated. Something that is nearly impossible while living on the streets.
This season, the warming shelter took in approximately 620 guests. Of those, around 126 were able to move on to more permanents housing—what an incredible feat. The warming shelter is currently still open as they await permission from High Desert Homeless Services to send their last nine guests over to them. Of those nine guests, three are currently employed.
Andrew Jones is one of the guests at the shelter that is currently employed. He has been a guest there since November. During that time, he slowly gained the trust of the volunteers and began helping where he could. Because he previously held a guard card four years ago, he was encouraged by staff to get it again. Once he did, he was hired as a guard at the shelter. “The benefit of having a guard card is I can now provide for myself and am able to provide for my child,” says Jones. Before arriving at the warming shelter, Jones says he was just surviving day to day. Now, he has plans and sees ways to make those plans a reality. Jones hopes that a place like the warming shelter continues in the future to give the homeless somewhere to be able to turn their lives around.