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HOME seeks help to help homeless
Sheila Fann

Winter is the busiest season for the volunteers at Homeless of McMinnville Effort (HOME). 

HOME is an organization which was established in 2019 in an effort to aid the growing homeless population. Its mission statement is to honor the dignity and improve the lives of those who are unsheltered or displaced by providing meals, basic hygiene services, spiritual support and access to resources in order for them to work toward self-sustaining futures.

Co-founder of HOME, Sheila Fann, says the winter months are tough as temperatures drop and they try to find shelter for the homeless people in the county. She says they are currently “bracing themselves.” HOME is the most active in the winter. 

“One-third of our yearly call volume comes in during one-fourth of the year and that is about mid-November to mid-February. In the first 15 days of October, we had 40 calls,” said Fann. 

HOME currently, at time of print, shelters 16 adults and three children. Fann says nine of them are women and seven of them are men, two of which are veterans. She says 11 of them have jobs and are working every day. Four are disabled or retired and one is seven-months pregnant and cannot work. All the people they shelter have long-term ties to Warren County except two. 

Fann expects they will receive even more calls when the temperature drops further and HOME is always accepting volunteers. People can volunteer to answer the phone for HOME. 

“Volunteers on the phone are something we desperately need,” said Fann. “We need help manning the phones. It is very easy. It is through an app through Ben Lomand. You download it directly on your phone and no one has your personal number. It rings in through the app and they just transfer messages basically,” explained Fann. 

This app is helpful because Fann says volunteers do not have to stay in one place in order to help. They will be able to take calls whenever, which will be beneficial when the temperature drops.

“They can answer on the go. It doesn’t matter where they are. That is our biggest need - having people on the phones because our phones will be going 24/7 once the weather declines,” said Fann. 

Another service HOME hopes to provide this winter is a van pick up. Fann says they plan to have a van go through town from 5 to 6 p.m. and pick up those in need. Anyone interested in volunteering to drive the van is encouraged to reach out. They will train volunteers how to drive the van. 

HOME works with the McMinnville Police Department and they often receive calls from officers when they see someone out in the cold. 

“We partner with MPD and when they see people out and the weather is bad, they always call,” said Fann. 

The organization also works closely with the 911 call center, the Warren County Sheriff’s Department,  UCHRA,  The Hope Center, Brad Price and each member of The Recovery Court, Families in Crisis and the case workers at Ascension Saint Thomas River Park Hospital. 

As far as supplies, Fann says they have a lot of blankets, but they will never turn one down. 

“We really need Mylar blankets and HotHands hand warmers. We start going through those pretty fast,” said Fann. 

A Mylar blanket is a blanket that helps ward off hypothermia. It is waterproof and reflective so it traps body heat. HotHands hand warmers are single-use air activated packs that provide warmth. Both of these items are essential for those staying out in the cold. Any other warming items such as hats and gloves would also be appreciated. 

Those looking to help can also sponsor a hotel room. Women will be sheltered in the Haven. The Haven is a division of HOME that is a homeless shelter specifically for women and children. It opened in October 2022. Since there is currently not a men’s shelter, men will be sheltered in hotel rooms and overflow will be sheltered at Prosperity Point. 

Anyone interested in being a volunteer or donating any supplies can call (931) 668-0702. Any help is appreciated. 

“We would be glad to accept any extra help, especially on those phones,” said Fann.