Code Blue: 2016-17 Season Update

Last Fall we had hoped that the renovations being made to the Sacred Heart Church Hall to improve the facilities for use by guests of the Code Blue Center would be completed by the start of the season - mid-November. Unfortunately, as many of you who have taken on home renovation projects before know, the minute you start a project of this scale in an older building there are bound to be unforeseen issues that will arise. It has taken us a better part of a year and more money than we care to think about, but the end is in sight. Due to the delays in construction our official Center could not open for the season.

So we know you’ve been wondering:
What has changed at the Center and why did it take so long?

And more importantly; What about Code Blue?!

Last Summer, thanks to the support of St. Ann Parish, we began renovations of the Sacred Heart Church Hall (located on Church Street) to improve the bathroom facilities and overall condition of the hall to sustain the Code Blue Center. These improvements included the installation of two handicap accessible showers and bathrooms, the upgrading of the existing bathroom, addition of laundry machines, new floors, repaired walls/ceiling, and the upgrade of the building’s fire safety infrastructure, including installation of sprinkler and fire detection systems. Whew! Sound like a lot of work? It was.

We were fortunate enough to receive the generous donation of both the showers and a washer/dryer for the Center, but the overall cost of renovations, additional expenses for unforeseen issues that impeded construction, and the extended timelines have put added stress on our program funds. We will not be deterred though and are so grateful for all the volunteers that stepped up to help us make these updates and improvements a reality.

The Center now looks truly amazing! We get chills when we walk into the hall as it is now a warm, inviting space that will mean that much more to the guests who can now not only have a safe shelter, but take a shower, wash their clothes, and be that much closer to regaining that sense of “humanness” it takes to put their best foot forward and move on with their lives. We cannot wait to share it with our guests.

So, what about Code Blue this past winter?

Thanks to our friends at St. Ann Parish we were able to temporarily move the Code Blue Overnight Emergency Warming Center to the cafeteria of the old Sacred Heart Elementary School building. While the location was not the most ideal to serve our homeless neighbors, it met the basic needs of our program mission: to supply a safe and warm overnight emergency shelter. After a delayed start we were open for a total of 17 weeks, from mid-December to mid-April, and served 52 individuals; 13 women and 39 men. Fortunately this winter proved to be fairly mild and in working with our amazing partner organizations we were able to provide shelter, basic food provisions, and  information/referrals to human services in the Phoenixville area. Working with other local shelters, the few families that required emergency shelter were able to be re-routed to more suitable transitional programs that provide a much more suitable environment for minors.

We were fortunate to be able to open a site for those in need, but we could not have been able to provide any services without the AMAZING people that make up the Phoenixville and surrounding area community. Our Center was staffed by fantastic individuals who came to us through various partnerships, including one with Good Samaritan Shelter.  Our Shift Managers provided the compassion, strength, and understanding of our guests and their situation that is needed to help fulfill our mission. Over 150 volunteers from our area signed up to serve at the center throughout the winter, with more than 70 volunteering 2 or more shifts! That is a total of 319 shifts served or 1276 hours of volunteer time! Wow! And because of all of those volunteer hours, more of the donated funds we received went towards providing our guests food, supplies, heat and the other resources our program needs to keep running.

Thank you! You never cease to amaze us, Phoenixville!