Healthy Acadia offers overnight warming center ahead of forecast record cold temps

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:33 PM EST
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ELLSWORTH, Maine (WABI) - Officials say it is simply not safe to be outside on Saturday when temperatures are expected to drop to -20° in some locations.

For those who are unhoused or having trouble heating their homes, there are resources available for warmth and shelter this weekend.

“I just really hope this weekend people use the warming center,” said Renee Mozeliak, Acadia Warming Center’s co-manager. “Because we will welcome you with open arms.”

Monday through Friday, Healthy Acadia’s Ellsworth location operates as a recovery center, and according to Healthy Acadia Program Director Paige Johnston, identified a growing need through that work for people to have a safe, warm space to stay overnight.

“We sort of did some brainstorming about how we could potentially meet that need during these dangerously cold winter months,” Johnston said, “and identified that this space was in a good position to be able to pivot and offer overnight warming services.”

The warming center has been open every night since Dec. 23, in collaboration with a broad range of local and state partners.

“Anybody can use this space,” said Johnston. “So, somebody that’s unhoused and wants to stay for the whole night and have a safe place to be, if you just don’t have enough firewood to keep your house warm for the night, or maybe your pellet stove kicked out. Any community member can come in here and use this space.”

Healthy Acadia says they’ve had people in the overnight warming center every single night since it’s been open, which they say speaks to the need in the greater Ellsworth community. With Saturday’s dangerously cold temperatures on the way, they urge anyone in the community to take advantage of this resource.

“If you aren’t in this type of field I feel like you won’t really notice it, but people really need to start noticing it,” Mozeliak said. “There’s too many people who are just regular families who are unhoused and need help getting through.”

“Even if you’re in a rural area, we have some transportation funding,” Johnston added. “We’ll figure out a way to get you here. Sometimes people have had negative experiences with warming centers or shelters, spaces like that. This is really a wonderful environment. People are friendly. We’re posed really well that if there is any sort of conflict to mitigate that and take care of it, and keep everyone very safe. I know that there’s still some people out there in tents, and I just really, really hope that they’ll come and seek shelter and keep themselves safe for this cold weather.”

For more information on Healthy Acadia’s Overnight Warming Center, call them at 412-2228.

There is also a list of warming centers and available resources here.