Overnight Winter Lodging (OWL) for people facing homelessness started as a dream, one that Peninsula Poverty Response (PPR) never lost sight of. The idea became a reality in the fall of 2015 when a team of dedicated citizens got together and started the groundwork needed to make OWL a possibility. The team originally wanted OWL to be open seven days a week, but with only two churches ready to open their doors, it did not seem likely OWL would happen. However, the OWL Taskforce was not going to accept another winter of people sleeping outside, in the elements, during the coldest months of the year.
For the first time in a long time, individuals experiencing homelessness had a safe place to go at night. With that feeling of safety, guests were able to be a real part of the community. The support volunteers and guests shared with each other healed an otherwise invisible divide. The people who stayed throughout the season found the ideas of housing, treatment, and work becoming attainable realities.
The first season was a trial run with a simple goal: provide a warm, dry, safe place to sleep for individuals experiencing homelessness in the community. In OWL’s first operational months the basic needs of 29 different individuals were met, with an average of six guests a night. Five of these individuals have since moved into housing.
When OWL wrapped up its first season, instantly volunteers were asking when the next season would start. The OWL Taskforce got to work planning for the second season, knowing seven days a week and four and a half months was the goal. For months the team has been meeting, presenting to churches, and recruiting volunteers, all to make seven days a week possible.
On November 1, 2016 OWL opened its doors for the second time. With the generous support of Peninsula Church of the Nazarene, Peninsula Church Center, Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, and new to the OWL family, Chinook Lutheran Church and New Life Church, OWL is providing a warm, dry, safe place to sleep seven days a week from November through mid-March.
OWL’s mission statement sums it up perfectly: “This is a dedicated community working to bridge the gap between people without homes and the need for warm accommodations during Long Beach Peninsula’s coldest winter months.”
OWL is not possible without volunteers. If you would like to help make this incredible program feasible, please consider volunteering and share this information with your friends and family!
For volunteer information visit www.peninsulapovertyresponse.org/events/owl