DANBURY, Conn. -- The Association of Religious Communities (ARC) of Danbury has started a program to provide space for area homeless families to sleep overnight during the winter months.
“The Central Christian Church has generously agreed to host this Winter Warmth for Families (WWF) program, which ARC is coordinating,” said the Rev. Phyllis J. Leopold, ARC’s Executive Director. “We are excited to be partnering with a downtown religious institution to address this need.”
ARC serves 7,000 people each year and coordinates programs in domestic violence, housing the homeless and emergency financial aid. Click here to visit its website.
Central Christian Church, at 71 West St., will be open from 8 p.m. to 6:15 a.m. Monday thru Thursday evenings beginning Jan. 17. The church will be open for homeless families through March.
“We are hoping other people will step up to provide 'host homes' for families on the weekends,” ARC Housing Advocate Elke Sweeney said. “One of the goals of the program is to equip families to self-resolve their living situations in the next 30 to 60 days."
Permanent housing is the ultimate goal of all of ARC’s housing initiatives, Sweeney added.
There is a need for families, which consists of at least one parent and minor children, to have places to stay together. There are shelters for single people, mothers and children and abused families but none which include children over the age of 13 with either one or both parents. ARC is attempting to fill that gap.
"We are seeking people of compassion to volunteer for one night a week and be willing to stay with the guests,'' Sweeney said. There will be training for volunteers, especially concerning confidentiality issues. There are 10 cots for guests and additional cots reserved for the volunteers.
“As a person of faith, I believe it is sinful for families to have to choose whether to stay together or suffer in the cold because of disastrous economic or social forces that are often no fault of their own,” said the Rev. Stephen Tickner, pastor at the Central Christian Church. "I am excited that we can partner with ARC for this Winter Warmth Ministry and live out our faith by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves and help keep families together.”
Sweeney sees an average of three to five families per week. One of the most positive results of placing families in permanent housing is the cost savings to the community, she said.
People interested in volunteering can contact the Rev. Leopold at 203-792-9450 x102 or Sweeney at x103.