During the freezing winter months in Ann Arbor, people who don’t have homes have few sufficient options for getting out of the cold during the day. Ann Arbor’s winter daytime warming center is a collaborative effort organized by M.I.S.S.I.O.N.A2, Washtenaw County, and local faith communities. The daytime warming center provides a democratic, cooperative space where folks in the homeless community decide on the guidelines, activities, and experience in each center. Everyone who comes to the daytime warming center is a guest and community member, whether homeless or not. From December 1st to March 31st, various faith organizations host the daytime warming center.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays each February, our congregation provides a safe, warm, and welcoming place for people to come in out of the cold (our friends at First Congregational Church host the warming center on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the month). We are privileged to share in community with our guests, and we are honored to offer a delicious hot lunch (cooked and served by various church volunteers) to those who come. Roughly 70 people drop in to the warming center each day.
Because our guests are in a vulnerable population, we are sensitive to sharing their photos without permission. This guest, standing in the lunch line, asked for his picture to be taken and gave us permission to share it. He was happy to be here – and we are so happy to join him and the rest of our guests in creating community together.
If you are local and would like to be a part of this important ministry, here are some ways you can help:
1. Show up to the warming center to hang out with folks! New friendly faces to socialize with and build community with are so important in de-segregating our communities and building relationships.
2. Bring food! The warming center likes to provide meals and snacks for folks throughout the day. Please avoid nuts, as some folks are very allergic. Needed on a regular basis are:
- large quantities of ground coffee, half-and-half, and sugar.
- bulk snacks
3. Bring skills! There are lots of hours to pass while at the warming center on a cold day. Can you teach folks a craft? Can you bring art supplies? All of these things are helpful, and are most meaningful when the same people commit to coming to the warming center regularly throughout the winter months. To coordinate an activity in advance, contact us and we will put you in touch with the staff person who helps oversee the center. Here are some ideas that are caring and useful:
- Arts & Crafts of many types
- Providing free hair cuts!
- Nails / Makeovers / Beauty
- Providing free massage
- Skill-shares that empower folks to teach and learn
4. Bring warming supplies! Lots of people donate clothes to the warming center, which is great! Please make sure they are warm clothes (sweaters, sweatshirts, winter coats, winter boots, hats, winter gloves, thermal underclothes), and not just whatever you want to get rid of. Much desired supplies last year were winter boots, extremely warm winter socks in large quantities, truly winter coats, and hand-warmers and foot-warmers.