Despite the cold, spirits at the Salvation Army remained high warming the hearts of the community.
Both Salvation Army shelters in Fort McMurray remained open for 24-hours to give those in need in Wood Buffalo a place to stay out of the cold.
As the 24-hour service approaches its end and temperatures rise, Major Steve Hibbs reflected on the experience.
“It was great to have an opportunity to be able to share with people on a one-on-one, and also to encourage them to come out of the cold, and sit and relax and build relationships with our staff and other people staying with us.”
The men’s emergency shelter and Out of the Cold Mat Program wet shelter should return to regular hours after March 15, 2019.
Nowadays, tenants are getting an early start and embracing the warm weather.
Environment Canada suggests things like the cold snap or “polar vortex” could be the new normal for the region due to climate change.
Fortunately, Major Steve said weather patterns like those are on their radar.
“We’ve been opening 24 hours for a number of years depending on the cold snaps. Our baseline is minus 25 with the windchill, but not at such a long stretch as it was this year.”
The Salvation Army provides an essential service for the homeless. They continue to count on support from residents and industry to meet their needs.
“We’ll regroup, go back and ask our funders for the funds, and we’ll present the rationale for that. Hopefully, they’ll have the resources to be able to help us to go forward.”
With the worse of the winter weather seemingly behind us, Major Steve Hibbs was grateful for the support of Wood Buffalo and looks forward to their annual Christmas celebration in the summer.
“We really appreciate the kindness and the enerosity of our city [and] of our Municipality. So, we want to say thank you to everybody, and in the weeks and months to come, please continue to think about us.”