Atascadero Warming Center seeking volunteers

The Atascadero Warming Center is located at St. Williams Parish on Santa Lucia Road.
The Atascadero Warming Center is located at St. Williams Parish on Santa Lucia Road.

Volunteers are needed to help staff the Atascadero Warming Center, where those in need of shelter can stay on cold, rainy nights.

St. William’s Parish, at 6410 Santa Lucia Road, can take in 30 to 40 people on nights when the temperature is predicted to drop below 35 degrees or when there’s a 50 percent chance of rain. The North County Homeless Services Coalition and the El Camino Homeless Organization help train volunteers and provide funding for the center.

Guests can check in beginning at 8 p.m. and must leave the shelter by 6 a.m. in order to allow for normal church activities. Those staying for the night are provided with mats and blankets, noodle cups, coffee and hot cocoa. No pets, smoking, alcohol or drugs are allowed.

Director Tim Harness said 35 to 40 volunteers help guests check in and provide supervision overnight. Ideally, Harness would like to have 100 volunteers trained and able to help out during various shifts. The midnight-to-6 a.m. shift is the least popular and needs the most volunteers, he said.

“We’re just trying to be creative to fill that second shift,” Harness said.

In the past, the shelter was loosely organized by community members, he said. But now, Harness and the organizations involved are looking to develop a long-term strategy for its future operation that would require more volunteers.

Those interested in volunteering must take part in a two-hour training, which takes place every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Central Coast LINK, at 6500 Morro Road, Suite A.

For more information about volunteering, contact Harness at 805-748-5541. Monetary donations are welcome and can be made to the Atascadero Warming Center through the El Camino Homeless Organization.

Those interested in staying at the shelter can call 805-463-3663 and press the pound key for hours of operation.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27