During the last week of January, two inches of snow fell across the metro area paralyzing the city’s infrastructure, leaving people stranded in their cars and stuck at work. But for those without a place to call home, the snow was a burden on a group already facing many difficulties.
During “Snowpocalypse 2014,” as it was famously named, Gateway remained a 24/7 service center and did not turn people away as they sought refuge from the snow and dropping temperatures.
As snow continued to fall, and ice began to form on the road, Gateway saw an increase from the normal amount of people who visit the Gateway Center each day for various services. Short on staff, coupled with an increase in traffic, the staff members that were able to come to work went above and beyond their duties to make sure the center continued running smoothly for clients and others.
Amanda van Dalen, a case manager at the Gateway Center was one of the few who were able to come into work on Wednesday.
“With the aid of a Resident Assistant, I was able to help run our information desk,” said Amanda. “Due to the cold and frozen weather outside, our leadership decided that those who needed shelter could stay in our lobby for the day to stay warm.”
Whenever possible, during extremely cold conditions, Gateway transports people to shelter for the night.
During the two days of snow, Gateway provided extra sack lunches and mattresses and blankets were provided for people who sought refuge from the harsh weather.
As all of Gateway Center’s beds were full during this time, mats were placed down in the lobby and we were able to sleep an extra 70 persons per evening from Tuesday to Thursday.
When Amanda reflects on the snow storm, she sees an organization that banned together from top to bottom.
“It was really encouraging to see the way our clients and residential assistants stepped up to lead and help out. I had a client come to the front desk and borrow a shovel so he could shovel snow in the front of Gateway so clients could have an easier time getting in. This shows me that the clients and staff have a mutual respect for each other, and we would not have made it through those two and half days without either one.”