Empty school put to work as warming center for homeless

EUGENE, Ore. - The Egan Warming Centers plan to be open Friday for a third night in a row as bitter cold temperatures persist.

The warming centers, named for a homeless veteran who froze to death on the streets of Eugene in 2008, opened for the first time this year on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the centers opened again - but ran into a problem.

"They were panicking a little bit because the churches that normally operate the warming centers were unable to last night because it being Thursday night and they were holding services," said County Commissioner Pat Farr.

"You always worry about these things," said Terry McDonald with St. Vincent de Paul, which organizes the warming centers at locations across Eugene and Springfield. "You feel a sense of obligation and responsibility for creating a system and so you want to make sure it's filled and it's taken care of."

Farr and Alicia Hays from Lane County stepped in to help.

"As we were talking, she was brainstorming out loud, and she said, 'Well we have closed schools in (Eugene 4J School District)' and so we made a call, and she found Parker Elementary School," Farr said.

Around 60 people were shuttled there for the night.

"It's a team effort," Farr said. "It's the way we are in Eugene: if people need help, we'll bend together and make it happen."

Farr said the effort was done at no cost to taxpayers or the Eugene 4J School District. Opening the school for shelter will be funded by St. Vincent de Paul.

For Friday night, the warming centers are reverting back to their normal locations.

  • First Christian (12th and Oak)
  • Valley Covenant (18th and Bailey Hill)
  • Dayspring (River Road and Howard)
  • Ebbert Memorial (Springfield)
  • Overflow at Catholic Community Services (on G Street)
  • Hosea (for guests under 21) Monroe Street

For more information on how to volunteer at the warming center, or for current operations and locations, visit the Egan Warming Center website.