Interfaith Action is planning to expand its cold weather emergency shelter program in Evanston this winter and is seeking volunteers and a paid shelter worker to run the program.

The Rev. Betty Landis of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church says that in previous years the shelter for the homeless at St. Paul’s has only been open when the overnight temperature was at or near zero.

This year six houses of worship have signed up to participate in the Interfaith Action program on a rotating basis and the goal is to have a shelter open whenever overnight temperatures fall below 15 degrees between Nov. 15 and March 15.

The Rev. Michael Kirby of Northminster Presbyterian Church says being open more days “will provide additional safety for some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

The first training session for volunteers will be held Thursday, Oct. 27, at St. Paul’s, 1004 Greenwood St. from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old. Volunteers can signup for a training session by emailing Sue Murphy at

Additional volunteer training sessions are planned for Tuesday, Nov. 1; Monday, Nov. 7, and Tuesday Dec. 6.

In addition to St. Paul’s, the emergency shelter locations this winter will be at First Presbyterian Church, First Congregational Church, First United Methodist Church, the Unitarian Church and Beth Emet Synagogue.

Each will have certain weeks to host the shelter. They’re all located close to the Purple Line and within walking distance of the Interfaith Action Hospitality Center at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, which provides breakfast, and Connections for the Homeless on Lake Street which provides day-to-day services for the homeless including case workers, laundry and showers.

Volunteers are sought to do setup from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and cleanup from 6 to 7 a.m. In addition, one volunteer along with a paid staffer will work the overnight shift. More information about the paid staff position is available online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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