Martinsville-based warming center in need of volunteers to ensure it stays open this winter

The Martinsville and Henry County Warming Center is serving double the number of visitors seen last year

During the winter months, many are blessed with a warm place to call home, but that may not be the case for some folks.

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – During the winter months, most people are curled up with a blanket inside their heated homes while others are on the streets struggling to find a place to sleep. The Martinsville and Henry County Warming Center is trying to help combat that issue.

The center gives people a warm place to sleep and hot food for dinner and breakfast. It’s inside the Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in Martinsville.

“Our main focus is no matter what their story is, everybody deserves to stay warm. Get a good meal and sleep in a safe place. And wake up the next morning, get some snacks, get some things to go out into the world with. Then we bring them back in the next night,” said one volunteer, Stephen Kaplan.

The center is run by volunteers, like Stephen and his wife, Alex.

“It’s just like being a family. I worry about them, job interviews, appointments. It’s like my kids, ya know,” said Alex.

Last year, the center typically housed an average of eight people a night. This winter, that number has doubled.

“It really has been a busy season for us,” said Stephen.

Because of the rise in visitors, the center is looking for more help.

“Whatever you feel in your heart that would help us. just do it. We need it. You want to give it,” said Alex. “Whether it be your time, monetary, whether it be something laying around the house, or a special skill like building a website we can use it,” she said.

The warming center is open from November until March. Making a difference, one night at a time.

“Now I have a place to stay. A warm place to stay. I’ve got warm food to eat, I’ve got water. Anything I want,” said one visitor, Rodney White.

Learn how you can help the warming center, here.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.