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Omaha homeless shelters prepare for cold weather

Posted at 6:19 PM, Oct 10, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With the cold weather coming in, homeless shelters across the area are preparing for a large influx of people coming through their doors.

The Stephen Center in South Omaha said they're already at capacity and expect to remain at near-capacity throughout the winter months. The organization is always looking for volunteers and said they've been receiving donations ahead of the cold weather.

"It does get cold in October which is why we start early and collect blankets, hats, gloves, coats and coffee even and we make sure we're ready when it happens," said Devon Lee, Stephen Center's volunteer coordinator. "There's tons of people that don't have places to go if it weren't for places like the Stephen Center."

Scott Soderberg is one of those people. Homeless for parts of the last six and a half years, he's called the Stephen Center home since August.

"It's a wonderful place to have an option to go," Soderberg said. "If you don't have a place to go or if you have to sleep in your car it's not a fun proposition."

There are 78 permanent beds here at the Pettigrew Emergency Shelter but if the beds are full the facility has cots available for those in need during the cold winter months.

"Generally we stay full all year long," Lee said. "We're always making space and making accommodations wherever we can."

Along with meals and a beds, clients are staying busy during the winter months in life-skills classes.

"Where I came from to where I'm at now, it's not where I want to be but it's a stepping-stone to get me there," Soderberg said.

Typically clients stay at the Stephen Center for a minimum of 30 days. Lee said the center is always available to talk to those in need and said the center will help assist someone in finding a place to sleep during winter months.