Code Purple was invited to be on Delmarva Life in January. They gave a list of questions that would be given during the interview. I was trying to make sure I was prepared to answer the questions appropriately. It seems that I was overprepared for the time that we actually had in the segment. 🙂 I thought they were good questions and I felt like the answers that I had prepared may be helpful to the people that want to know more about the Code Purple Ministry.
- What is Code Purple and how does it work? : CP is a collaboration of churches and volunteers coming together to shelter anyone experiencing homelessness in the winter. It started as a grassroots effort and has an established Board of Directors. We are separate from Kent and New Castle County Code Purple agencies. This is our fifth winter in operation. We open in December starting off based on temperatures (32 and below). Then we transition into being open every night from December 15th- March 15th. We invite everyone in need of a safe warm place to sleep, to come in, eat and sleep for the night. Each site has a few slightly different details but basically, we open at 7pm, eat dinner and then proceed to the shelters where the guests sleep. A few of the shelters have dinner on site.
- Where are these shelters set up? : The shelters are all set up in churches that have generously allowed us space for our guests. We have sites in Seaford, Bridgeville, Laurel, Delmar, Milford, and Georgetown. Some are in fellowship halls and some are in the church basements.
- Talk about the need for these shelters? : The need for shelter beds in Sussex County is huge. There are currently two year-round shelters and together they hold approximately 30 people. We served over 150 guests last year in just four months. There is an obvious lack of resource in this area.
- Who can use these services? : Anyone that finds themselves without a place to sleep at night is welcome at our shelters. Whether they have been experiencing homelessness for a day or chronically over years, they are welcome. No matter what they are going through in their lives, they are welcome. We are a low barrier shelter provider which means that anyone not able to get into a shelter due to lack of ID, addictions, mental illness, or other circumstances will have a safe warm place to sleep in the winter months.
- How do you staff the shelters? : Our shelters are fully run by volunteers. People in the community that give their time and resources to help us run one season at a time. We have training available before the beginning of each new season and then we train on the job once the season has begun. Everything is donation based. Even our dinners each night are brought into each location by members of the community.
- What do you look for in a volunteer? : We look for volunteers that are caring and committed. We want people to be able to be kind, compassionate and not easily offended. We see a lot of hard situations come through and our guests need to know that we care. We may not be able to fix many problems with the limited amount of time with our guests but many just want a listening ear. We need our volunteers to be patient and have some understanding of the amount of crisis that comes with experiencing homelessness.
- What kind of time commitment is it? : That really depends on the job that you are signing up to fill. The longest hours are overnight. That would be from about 8:30pm til 7/7:45am but you are allowed to sleep if you are comfortable with it. The intake position is about 2hrs of a commitment. Dinner is the time that you put in to cook and take it to the shelter. Some people drop off dinner but most stay and serve and fellowship with our guests. Fellowship is an important part of what we do in CP. Sitting, eating, sharing stories, and listening are some of the best moments of the season. It truly becomes family time.
- For those who cannot volunteer, how can they help the shelter? : For those who cannot commit time to be at the shelter, there is always a need for donations. We have a complete list of items as well as drop off sites in several towns. We depend on the generosity of the community to keep our shelves stocked with the needed items to run CP.