BILLINGS – To deal with an influx of people during the extreme cold, the Community Crisis Center has partnered with local churches to give people a place to go.
“If they reach capacity, what they do is they will send clients to Billings First Congregational Church,” said Lisa Harmon, a pastor at the church.
First Congregational, as well as Billings First Baptist and Billings First Christian, have all stepped up to provide those in need a warm place to stay.
“They are screened for low-level needs because we want to make sure that we are sending the churches our level needs persons and that we are keeping persons that are in dire crisis at the crisis center,” said MarCee Neary, program director at the Crisis Center.
Neary said it has been a huge help at the Crisis Center. The building’s capacity is 45, and when it’s full, things are crowded and tense, so having a place to send people is a big weight off their shoulders.
Volunteers are on hand from about 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to help facilitate things. Each volunteer goes through training, including suicide de-escalation, so they are prepared for whatever comes their way.
The Phoenix, a sober living gym in Billings, donated the mats for the guests to sleep on, and the Crisis Center provides meals.
“Sending them to the churches gives those folks that get to go…a much more peaceful situation where they can actually rest and can have a listening ear from a volunteer,” said Neary.
Neary said that now many of those at the Crisis Center are doing what they can to be evaluated so they can be a part of the program.
The next volunteer training is Feb 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the Billings First Congregational Church.
Reporting by Samantha Sullivan for MTN News