EUGENE, Ore. — The return to near-normal winter temperatures couldn’t come quick enough for the Egan Warming Centers.
The centers stayed open for eight consecutive nights.
Dozens of residents turned out Thursday night to train to be the newest volunteers at the centers.
“Many of our guests tell us that we are their only place they are welcome to spend the night,” said Egan Warming Centers Manager Doug Bales.
It’s those invitations to the Egan Warming Centers and its increased frequency recently that had dozens of people, including Scott Steele, ready to join hundreds of others in the training.
“We have a community that’s willing to come out and volunteer those hours to help those people, you know. I wanted to be a part of that,” said Steele.
“We’re bringing in some fabulous people,” said Bales. “Our quality of leadership and our quality of volunteers continues to go up.”
Those quality volunteers now number in the hundreds. Their resolve continues to be tested by the extreme cold and the sites that are bursting at the seams.
“We’ve learned we can do it,” said Bales. “We’ve learned we need more space. We’ve learned the Egan Army is a really enthusiastic group of people and they’re really pumped.”
Bales says during the storm and the days that followed, 150 volunteers worked at least five hours shifts.
“We kind of built this community from the ground up,” said Bales. “The Egan Army is really strong resilient people. They’re challenged by this. They love the bad weather. We’re saving lives.”
And that’s exactly why those like Steele are stepping up to help.
“I mean you got to have a heart otherwise you’re not even here to begin with,” said Steele. “Some of those stories are probably going to grab at your strings a little bit you know?”
Another training is set for Saturday at the First Christian Church at 12th and Oak. Volunteers should expect to be there from 10:00 a.m. – noon.