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Shelter opens for the winter
Donations, volunteers needed
We Care pic1
Guests at the We Care Program homeless shelter for men eat dinner on Monday evening.

Earlier this year Robert Dean Dooley, a 56 year-old unable to work due to injury, was evicted from his home by his brother. Since then, he’s had no choice but to live with friends – or wherever he could.

But since Thursday, Dooley’s had a place to go: the We Care Foundation homeless shelter, located at 221 S. Broadway.

“I could be out there on the streets,” Dooley said. “That’s the way things are.”

The nighttime, cold-weather men’s shelter offers the homeless a much needed respite from those streets on these frigid days. Tuesday evening, the temperature was forecasted to drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite the cold temperatures, only between 25 and 30 guests stayed at the We Care shelter Monday night, the fifth night of a run expected to stretch from Dec. 1 through March 31, 2012. That’s below the shelter’s 38 bed capacity, up from 34 beds a year ago.

“At this point we’re not to capacity, but that’s alright,” said Bill Sturtevant, We Care program executive director. “We’re not having to turn anyone away.”

Those guests were a mix of regulars and new faces, according to Sturtevant. All are good people, he said as he looked across the dining room, just some had made a few bad choices.

 “Some of us turned left when we should have turned right,” Sturtevant said.

We Care offers more than just a place to get out of the cold, it gives people a chance to get their lives turned around. Joel Burnett, who also stayed at the shelter last year, said We Care has been a godsend.

“It’s been a lot of help,” Burnett said.

Running the shelter does take money, though. And while We Care has made adjustments to try to save money, the organization still needs funding to complete the planned winter run. Also needed are volunteers to cook and serve dinner some nights.

Despite the challenges, those running the We Care Program say there’s nowhere else they would rather be.

“We’re glad to be here,” Sturtevant said. “They’re family to us.”

For more information on volunteering to serve food, or donations, visit or call 664-2003.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.