CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — It’s the season to welcome the homeless in Charlottesville off the streets and into shelters.
“That is our major goal, making sure during the winter months that we will not have a story that is so sad like that. No one would die out in the freezing cold,” Reverend Ben Paige said, Board Chairman of PACEM.
PACEM heads into its 14th year providing a winter getaway for the more than 300 homeless people in the Charlottesville area.
“We end up serving more than 200 individuals every season and so those are primarily members of the community that have fallen into the state of homelessness,” Jayson Whitehead said, Executive Director of PACEM.
To get ready for the season, more than 30 lead volunteers from each church gathered to get training on what to expect and how to engage with their guests.
“How and when to serve dinner, how to interact with our guests. There’s a lot of moving parts that make PACEM work effectively,” Whitehead said.
For Paige, this isn’t about serving a hundred homeless people, it’s about each one individually.
“Each client that we have has an individual story, and it is not the same across the board,” he said. “So a lot of it is just trying to keep them out of the cold, and a lot of it is trying to work on seeing what kind of help they need to keep this from repeating again.”
Because for Paige and the more than 3,000 volunteers, their hope is the same faces won’t need to come back next year.
“I love to hear the stories about those who made it out of this situation,” Paige said.
PACEM’s shelter season will run from Oct. 28 until April 14 this year.