Union County Warming Station is open through March
Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization supports community program
La Grande — With winter in full swing, the doors at the local warming station are open, providing a safe place for those with no other place to sleep.
The Union County Warming Station began its second season on Nov. 15, at a new location: 1609 N. Willow St., La Grande. Its hours are 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., Nov. 15-March 15. This season will be double the length of its three month pilot launch in early 2018.
The station is a volunteer-run effort to preserve the life and health of those with no place to sleep during cold winters. The station offers safe and warm sleeping accommodations overnight during the winter months, as well as food and warm drinks. It also connects visitors with community resources.
Its team strives to provide a welcoming, safe, and compassionate place where all people can stay the night, and are offered resources and pathways toward housing stability.
“We want to be a place where people can be safe and warm,” said Cami Miller, Warming Station
“Our motto is if you give people some tools to make life easier, feel valued and rested at a warm place to sleep — and connect them with resources — that’s when they’re going to be able to change their lives and get a new start.”
The warming station has been tackling a serious need in Union County, which frequently experiences harsh winter conditions. The facility has a maximum capacity of 16 individuals with two volunteers. The station serves, on average, 8-15 visitors per night.
How it started
A community effort made the warming station a reality.
In February 2018, the Union County Local Community Advisory Council (LCAC) affiliated with Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization (EOCCO) helped kick-start the warming station. The LCAC identified the warming station as an important program and provided funding to support its launch.
LCACs are a group of volunteers in each EOCCO county, including Union. The councils advise on improving services and programs through the CCO and its providers. They also organize activities that engage EOCCO members in addressing health issues.
The Warming Station, a nonprofit guided by a volunteer board, partners with various organizations in the area, such as: Community Connections of Northeast Oregon, Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization, Ferranti Grand Reach Ministries, Graybeal Insurance Agency, Housing Matters of Union County, La Grande Presbyterian Church, Miller’s Home Center, Nature’s Pantry, Neighbors Together of Union County, Northeast Oregon Network, Northeast Oregon Public Transit, Scott’s Heating and Air, Union County Local Community Advisory Council, and Zion Lutheran Church.
“The community really rallied behind us to make the warming station a reality,” Miller said.
How to get involved
The Warming Station is seeking additional volunteers to help serve the community. For more information on volunteering or providing a donation, please visit www.ucwarmingstation.com or www.facebook.com/unioncountywarmingstation.