By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte County Fairgrounds is acting as an emergency shelter for the homeless this weekend.

The main building of the fairgrounds complex, 421 U.S. Hwy. 101 N., has become an overnight shelter for as many homeless people as need the help Friday through Sunday nights. The program may stretch into Monday.

The idea is Steve Hill's.

Hill, an employee with Rural Human Services, noticed the unseasonably cold temperatures when he went outside Friday morning.

When he came back into his house, he heard a news broadcaster telling about San Francisco Police gathering that city's homeless population for transportation to the Rescue Mission.

andquot;I thought that if it's that cold down there, it's really going to be cold up here,andquot; Hill said.

The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning. Cold temperatures in the mid-20s are expected through Saturday.

On Friday morning, Hill obtained permission from his boss to pull together a similar program from out of thin air.

andquot;We had five people stop by RHS yesterday (Thursday) to ask where they could stay,andquot; Hill said. andquot;There is no program here.andquot;

By mid-day Friday, Hill had a promise from Our Daily Bread Ministry to cook and serve meals to the shelter's clients all weekend. Towels and toiletries were in the works, and calls were out in the hope that sleeping bags and cots would be brought over.

Our Daily Bread is serving its three weekly meals from a location at about 1400 Northcrest Drive that once housed Stockade Pizza.

As Hill scurried around town on his errands, he stopped to alert the homeless he spotted in the hope that word of mouth would spread. He plans to stop at the former pizzeria at its 6 p.m. dinner time and offer to transport people to the fairgrounds after the meal.

Rural Human Services furnished its van for the errands and transportation vehicle.

Hill is hoping community members will pitch in with needed items, food for Our Daily Bread, cleaning duties and so on. Security is being furnished at the fairgrounds/shelter during the evening.



Contact Our Daily Bread at 464-7777 or 954-7777 to volunteer or donate.