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Shelter sees overflow as Greenfield copes with the cold

  • ServiceNet's shelter is opened 24 hours when temperatures are below 20 degrees. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • ServiceNet program directors Steve Karpovich, left, and Elizabeth Bienz have been working to keep the doors open for the program's shelter on Wells Street. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Amanda Guppy dresses for the severe cold weather while at the ServiceNet shelter on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2017 on Wells Street in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Amanda Guppy dresses for the severe cold weather while at the ServiceNet shelter on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2017 on Wells Street in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frank Ruehle comes in from the severe cold to stay at the ServiceNet shelter on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2017 on Wells Street in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frank Ruehle comes in from the severe cold to stay at the ServiceNet shelter on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2017 on Wells Street in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, January 02, 2018

GREENFIELD — During a week of brutal cold temperatures that haven’t been seen in the region for nearly 60 years, ServiceNet’s overnight emergency homeless shelter is seeing the greatest demand in at least 16 years.

The Wells Street shelter has been packed to the brim during the deep chill, according to its Greenfield program directors.

“I’ve run the shelter for 16 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it in overflow,” said program director Steve Karpovich.

Typically, the shelter, which provides people with a place to sleep and a meal, has space for up to 20 adults. This weekend, the shelter took on 30 people, 50 percent more than its capacity, Karpovich said. He attributed the demand to the sustained cold from the Arctic blast that has covered the region since Christmas.

The last time the region saw temperatures that didn’t break 20 degrees for six consecutive days was in 1961, based on readings out of Amherst, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson. The one reprieve is, it’s unprecedented to have a prolonged cold spell like this happen again within the same season.

While the Greenfield shelter has kept its doors open to anyone in need during these frigid temperatures, there’s a shortage of other items for its clients.

Blankets are the main items in need, said Karpovich and Elizabeth Bienz, program director for the site’s resource center. Other items of need include pillows and toiletries, like soap and toothpaste. They said donations could be left at the center on Wells Street, and dropped off in the lobby if no one is there to assist. People can call 413-772-6100 to contact the resource center.

For the most part, meals have been adequately provided by local churches, like Our Lady of Peace in Turners Falls.

The shelter stays open all day when the temperature dips below 20 degree, but because of budget constraints, its directors said, it cannot always stay open 24 hours. Instead, it typically is open from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m., while its resource center, in the same building, is open during the day for people who need a place to stay.

The resource center also acts as a place of counsel for people. Bienz said everyone who comes in has the opportunity to meet with a counselor to find out how they may be able to find the services, housing and jobs they need to sustain themselves.

Some people in the shelter, with a typical maximum stay of 60 days, work part-time or full-time jobs. Despite being employed, a minimum wage position at a fast food restaurant would not be enough to cover the market-costs of housing in Greenfield, Bienz said.

You can reach
Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264