Sanford Springvale News

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York County Shelter Program staff, from left to right, Megan Gean-Gendron, Linda Pataki, Wes Phinney, Jason Tuttle and, in foreground, Jenna Kairo at the warming center at the former Lafayette School. The center will be staffed round the clock all winter.

York County Shelter Program staff, from left to right, Megan Gean-Gendron, Linda Pataki, Wes Phinney, Jason Tuttle and, in foreground, Jenna Kairo
at the warming center at the former Lafayette School. The center will be staffed round the clock all winter.

Photo: Lee Burnett 

By Zendelle Bouchard 

The warming center at the former Lafayette School opened at noon on Friday, Dec. 1. The center, located at 69 Brook St., was originally scheduled to open in October, but delays with the lease and with staff training led to the opening date being pushed back. The center is being run by staff from York County Shelter Programs. 

The warming center does not have beds, but instead has zero-gravity chairs which are comfortable to sleep in. There are multiple rooms available so people can choose to sleep where they feel safest. The shelter has capacity for up to 44 individuals. Megan Gean-Gendron, Executive Director of YCSP, said she expects it will fill up immediately. There are more than 150 individuals living outdoors or in vehicles in Sanford and Springvale, according to City Manager Steve Buck, and that number is increasing weekly. 

The warming center will remain open 24/7 through the winter. Unlike some types of shelters, where clients have to line up each day to secure a spot, here they will be able to leave during the day and still keep their place if they want it. Three meals a day will be available, along with case management and housing navigation services.  

People needing shelter can call ahead to see if there is room, or just stop by. The center is accessed through the rear door of the building. The direct number for the center is (207) 888-3291, or call YCSP at (207) 324-1137, extension 139 with any questions. There is an intake process to ensure the center has all the information needed on the people being sheltered, but the center is low-barrier, meaning people who are under the influence of substances will be welcome. However, to be respectful of the property and the neighborhood, Gean-Gendron said no illegal activity will be tolerated in the building or on the grounds. The property is still owned by the Sanford School Department. 

Ahead of Friday’s opening, several members of the Sanford Police and Fire Departments were on hand to get oriented to the building in the event that emergency services are needed. Gean-Gendron said the City of Sanford “has been amazing” to work with and the permitting process went smoothly. 

YCSP has sufficient staff to run the warming center, but is still hiring. Contact Bonnie Leslie at bleslie@ycspi.org or call (207) 324-1137, extension 109 for information on job opportunities. 

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