STROUD TOWNSHIP, PA — Beds inside the Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church Shelter in Stroud Township are empty until temperatures drop and even colder weather moves in, forcing many without a home to look for a warm place to stay.
"Last year, when we first opened up, we had eight, nine people. Opening up the first day here, we had about 16 to 20, and before we knew it, we had an average of 30 people coming in a night," said Peter Mankin, the shelter manager.
Mankin says with the recent dip in temperatures, people needed a safe space to stay.
"We were full. We had a bunch of guys," Mankin said. "I'm going to say at least 20 guys and 16 women, and it was phenomenal because they all came in here. We were able to let them in early."
The newly renovated shelter, also known as the Wesleyan Inn, is equipped with a kitchen, showers, and beds for guests. It's near capacity, with about 40 guests staying a night.
"They come in. They get warm. Some of them jump into the shower immediately. Some of them throw their laundry in immediately to get their laundry done, and then they eat. They usually take their food, they go sit in the bedroom and get warm, and they hang out with each other," Mankin said.
With more wintry weather on the way for this coming weekend, volunteers here say they're ready to welcome even more guests.
"We're setting it up, so they don't have to leave at 7 in the morning," Mankin said. "We're trying to get people here so they can stay at least till 10 or 12 because that's brutal. You go out at 7 o'clock in the morning, and it's zero degrees out."
If the forecast calls for snow, then guests at the shelter will not have to leave.
"We won't turn anybody away," Mankin said. "You won't come here, and we won't tell you, 'Oh, we don't have a place for you, you've got to go out in the cold.' We will find a place for you to stay."
The Wesleyan Inn is open every day from 7 p.m. till 6 a.m. from now to March 31.
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