NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)- The city’s temporary homeless shelter is in need of donations and volunteers to help the facility run.
The shelter opened up earlier this month at the old Greyhound bus station off Granby and Brambleton. It’s a continuation of the Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) Winter Shelter Program, which usually rotates between churches. The facility is in this temporary location throughout the summer and early fall until a permanent shelter is expected to open.
The Urban Renewal Center is helping run the shelter. Director Jordan Brown says they got involved with NEST back in the winter, which eventually led them to help with the temporary shelter.
It holds up the 55 tents but Brown says they’ve seen an overflow of people and are averaging around 80 people right now.
“We became very aware fairly early that there were more homeless in the City of Norfolk and Hampton Roads area than initially thought, but in the back of my mind, I knew this could be a possibility,” Brown said.
The center provides shelter, hot meals, showers, and assistance to resources that help those in need find more permanent housing and employment.
“The beautiful part about what’s happening, just like you said, it should not be a final resting place for anybody. The centralization piece that took place, even at the other spot, we recognize was giving everyone an opportunity to engage with individuals and see what they need,” he said.
Since they’re operating with an overflow of people in need, there’s also a need for donations.
Brown says water and individually wrapped snacks are appreciated as well as Cup of Noodles and Ramen.
“We surprisingly go through things in a matter of just days because of the size you have. When you have 55 to 80 people, everyone’s asking for this snack or that or getting a bottle of water. They usually drink two or three a day. That goes by quickly,” he said.
Brown says they’ve had a large number of people reach out to help but says more is always needed because of their numbers.
“We’ve gotten plenty of phone calls, plenty of emails. Hoping we can get more. We’ve been flooded with them but haven’t been flooded enough,” he said. “I feel the entire city can and should get involved. I feel the entire area can get involved and get the joy we feel in helping. The invitation is out there and I hope they come.”
But it’s not just material donations he says will make a difference.
Volunteers are also needed. Brown says spending time at the shelter will make a difference in not just those who use the shelter, but those who help.
The director, who started at the Urban Renewal Center in September, says giving back in this way is personal to him because he was once in the same position.
“Many, many years ago, I lived in my car for four months. I could’ve very well ended up in one of these establishments,” he said.
But with outside support, he was able to make it through. It’s that same kindness and empathy he’s hoping others will take on to see that those who need the shelter are human too.
“I know we’re only a month old but I’m not expecting this to catch fire and have an amass of thousands of people but it would be really great to see others experience what I’ve had and countless others. They’ve come in here and thought they were going to help, come in here, and they realize they’ve been just as impacted as the guests have,” he said.
If you would like volunteer or donate, you can contact Pastor Jim Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757-500-4747.