Cold Night Shelter Program Encourages Gainesville Nonprofits To Apply

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The man who dropped an 89-year-old woman off at St. Francis House on Main Street last winter said he was done with her.

June was abandoned, but her hair was perfectly brushed and her clothing and well-maintained image contrasted her predicament.

Lillian Danzy, the client service representative for St. Francis House, knew the well-kept woman was homeless.

For the next few months, the woman worked on getting back on her feet and eventually moved into her own house.

She was a firecracker and extremely stubborn, but helping her was one of the most gratifying experiences Danzy said she has ever had.

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Lillian Danzy, the client service representative for St. Francis House, is organizing the St. Francis House’s applications to the Cold Night Shelter Program. Raphael Pires/WUFT News

After working at St. Francis House for 13 years, Danzy has seen many people like the abandoned woman who benefit from programs that provide respite from the elements and the cold.

Now, nonprofit organizations like St. Francis House in Gainesville can apply to organize a Cold Night Shelter Program. The deadline for signing up is Oct. 22.

Through the program, nonprofit organizations can receive a $25,000 award from the City of Gainesville by taking in more homeless people during the colder months. It only applies when temperatures are expected to fall below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

John Wachtel, the neighborhood planning coordinator for the city, said that during the hotter months, many people don’t seek help from shelters.

Wachtel said that even though any nonprofit organization can apply, only two to three follow through, with St. Francis House being one of those organizations.

“We are saving lives, and with the extra funding we can save even more lives,” said Kent Vann, the executive director of St. Francis House.

Vann said they plan to apply this year and believe it’s an extremely important program for them; one that continues to help people in need.

St. Francis House can normally take in 35 people per night, but with more funding it can take in 60 additional citizens. It provides a place to shower, eat snacks, get a hot breakfast and sleep at night.

When people come in to St. Francis House, they also have the opportunity to get in contact with a case manager. For anyone who is trying to transition out of homelessness, Vann said this is their best asset.

St. Francis House won’t turn away anyone who needs a place to stay. If someone has special needs, it will help get him or her in contact with an agency that can help.

About Thomas Lynn

Thomas is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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