Volunteer Gail Michael minds the hygiene supplies made available to clients of Facets of Fairfax’s hypothermia program. Toothbrushes, shaving materials, and other hygiene products are available for clients to take.
Photos by Abigail Constantino/The Connection
People experiencing homelessness arrived in groups on Tuesday, Jan. 13 at Pender United Methodist Church in Fairfax for a hot meal and a warm place to sleep for the night. When they leave the next day, they will have their clothes cleaned and washed and a bag lunch for the day.
Every night, chairs and furniture in a large room of the church are arranged to make way for sleeping bags and mattresses. The chairs are arranged in rows, where in between them people have set up sleeping areas. “This arrangement is much nicer for maintaining some privacy,” said D’Ivonne Holman of Facets of Fairfax. Many set up by the walls and line up chairs to close off their area, much like a fort.
There is a room where people can keep their belongings safe, which is guarded and locked. People can also watch television or movies, play games, or read books in another room. Volunteers also run a store which has hygiene supplies and clothes where people can take what they need. There is also a laundry service, where people can leave their dirty clothes and volunteers will wash them in time for the next day.
The church provides the space and the meals and Facets provides the service as part of its Hypothermia Prevention and Response Program, which runs from November to March. “It’s Facets’ show,” said Mary Ellen Flather, who volunteers on behalf of the church. But there are two people who stay the night from the church, along with one person from Facets. There is also police presence.
Because Facets does not have a shelter, it relies on churches and faith communities to help run its hypothermia program. Alisha Matlock, Facets’ assistant director of development, said that there are “1,200 individuals who are literally homeless, living in the woods or in their cars” in Fairfax County. She said that it is “impressive” what the partnership between Facets and the 34 participating faith communities have been able to do without having a hypothermia building.