Commentary: Carrying Out the Life-saving Mission

Commentary: Carrying Out the Life-saving Mission

Fairfax County’s Hypothermia Prevention Program is dedicated to keeping our most vulnerable community members safe during the long, harsh winter months. Without the essential support of nonprofit and faith-based community partners, the program would not be nearly as successful. It is because of the collaborative efforts of the partnership that no unsheltered individuals died due to hypothermia this past winter. In the Winter Season of 2014-2015, the collaborative effort of the Winter Seasonal Programs served 1,061 guests combined and moved 64 clients directly into permanent housing.

This year’s program is an integral part of the Fairfax County effort to prevent and end homelessness, and incorporates the collaborative work of our area’s faith communities, civic organizations, businesses and individual volunteers. This coalition creates a complete matrix of shelters that are available during the coldest months here in Fairfax County. This is a critical and lifesaving resource offered by the County, and it is also a remarkable way to give directly back to your community. Below, I have highlighted the organizations that can help you get involved.

The Northern Virginia Family Services’ (NVFS) Hypothermia Prevention Program is operated under the management of Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter (BCCS) staff and operates from Nov. 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016. Hypothermia guests assemble at the Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter each evening at 4 p.m. Guests are afforded a hot shower, dinner, clothing, laundry, and case management services while at the facility. Through partnerships and collaborations with over twenty faith communities in Fairfax County, BCCS expands its ability to serve those seeking shelter by transporting guests to their off-site hypothermia prevention shelter locations. For further information about the program or volunteer opportunities, please contact Mario Wright at or 703-820-7621.

FACETS’ hypothermia prevention season runs from Nov. 29, 2015 through March 31, 2016, with doors opening at 5 p.m. each evening and closing at 7 a.m. every morning. FACETS rotates week-to-week between faith community hosting sites and beginning on Dec. 27, 2015, they will operate from two faith community sites each week. Community members are welcome to participate by volunteering at the current locations or donating items such as food and clothing. FACETS has received extended grant money, and it is very likely that the program will run until the end of April. For further information, please contact Barbara Schultheiss at

For the fourth year in a row, I will be volunteering with my church to help out at a hypothermia shelter. I invite you to join me at a program convenient to you. Fairfax County relies on our nonprofit and faith-based community partners to help us carry out the life-saving mission to give our most vulnerable neighbors a safe place out of the cold. It is a long and fairly intense program that requires many volunteers and donations. As the season progresses, please reach out to the local faith-based organizations in your neighborhood or the contacts listed above to see if they could use your participation or donations. There are many moving parts of the program and all parts are in need of additional help. For further information on the Hypothermia Prevention Program, please contact Debbie Scaggs at or 571-722-8952 in the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness.