‘A community issue’: Williamsport church opens to homeless overnight | Community

Every night from now until the end of March, the home of First United Methodist Church becomes home to a number of the area’s homeless.

“There are always opportunities to serve people,” said John Best, who founded the Code Blue Ministry shelter with his wife Sue. “There could be more shelters, there could be more places to go during the day. It’s a big problem…it’s a community problem.

The streets of Williamsport are no stranger to homelessness. As nights dip below freezing, warm places to sleep are scarce for those without a home, money for a hotel room, or a friend’s couch to sleep on.

Seeing a serious problem, John and Sue Best founded the Code Blue Ministry shelter in 2018. The shelter opens at 9 p.m. and closes at 7 a.m. It is intended to provide a safe place to sleep for homeless people who cannot fit into the other shelters in town.

“We think there are more homeless people now than there were in 2018,” said John Best, adding that when shelters close in the morning, participants find other places in the city. to warm up – the library, the bus station, the laundromats. or Wegmans.

Code Blue Shelter volunteers take turns spending the nights they spend at the church.

Janine Herr first heard about the Code Blue shelter after hearing about it in the newspaper.

“Honestly, I feel like I get more out of it than the people I interact with,” Herr said.

“For me, it’s not an obligation.

An evening at church is simple, says Herr. Attendees enter around 9 p.m. and after setting up their beds and grabbing some food, most are ready to sleep. Many spent much of the day trying to find a place to stay warm and get food.

This is the first time that Herr participates…

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