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Lawrence Community Shelter board to meet, discuss winter emergency sheltering

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The new Lawrence Community Shelter board of directors will hold a special meeting Wednesday to discuss expanding services and meals for winter emergency sheltering.

The board will study and discuss the expansion of services related to the shelter’s funding agreement with the city, which was approved Oct. 17 by the Lawrence City Commission.

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“More specifically, the meeting will include discussion of the provision of day services and meals to clients, and support of additional emergency sheltering programs, including winter emergency sheltering,” according to an email from LCS’ interim director, Melanie Valdez, late Monday.

The agreement states that “Grantee will maintain, at all times, total shelter capacity of a minimum of 100 guests, regardless of program or funding source therefor”; “Grantee will — when outside temperatures are 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below — increase total shelter capacity in accordance with its Special Use Permit, as amended, and will not, during such inclement weather, discharge any guest experiencing houselessness”; and “Grantee will offer day services to all guests, including but not limited to three meals per day.”

Valdez last week presented board members with the shelter’s anticipated budget, which shows that the shelter’s operating budget could be in the red by mid-December, even without expanding winter services.

Adding to the challenges for the shelter, its commercial-size refrigerator “reached a state of being beyond repair a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, we have not had the funds to replace it. Today, our large walk-in cooler also failed, resulting in the loss of all our fresh food supplies,” Valdez wrote in an email to LCS supporters on Friday.

The board meeting is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1 at the Douglas County Public Works training room, 3755 E. 25th St., and via Zoom. Join the Zoom meeting at this link.

“As time permits, this meeting will also include an executive session to deliberate on personnel matters related to a shelter employee,” according to the email.

The next regular LCS board meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30, tentatively at the Lawrence Public Library. Those details are not yet confirmed, according to Valdez’s email last week.

The recording of the LCS board’s first meeting, held Oct. 26, is now available on the shelter’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/@LawrenceCommunityShelter. Read our coverage of the meeting at this link.

The shelter is seeking donations from the public to help people make it through the winter: “We are in need of donations, including towels, twin sheets, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, Hot Hands and Hot Feet, cough drops, over-the-counter cold and flu medicine, and snacks. Your generosity will make a significant impact during these challenging months,” according to Valdez’s email last week. Those who wish to contribute can do so online or find more information at lawrenceshelter.org/donate.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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