On the very cold evening of Jan 25, volunteers from Plano West Rotary joined volunteers from area churches and the Collin County Homeless Coalition to serve guests as the Plano Overnight Warming Station (POWS) opened.
POWS is a collaboration between the coalition, Plano Police and the City of Plano that allows the Salvation Army in east Plano to open as a temporary emergency warming station on evenings when overnight temperatures reach freezing or near freezing with precipitation. POWS primarily serves guests who don’t have permanent shelter and are experiencing homelessness. At POWS, guests are able to sleep on a cot with a pillow and clean bedding, and are able to take a hot shower.
They also receive a hot meal and can shop the clothing closet for warm, clean clothing and toiletry items. Plano West Rotary volunteers helped set up the warming station before guests arrived, and then staffed the clothing closet and hygiene supplies while guests checked in. This entails making sure that guests can find the sizes and items they need, as well as generally making them feel welcome and cared for. Five volunteers supported POWS with 18 total hours of service on Jan 25. Club president Joy Hinkelman and Rotarian Jennifer Shertzer served, as well as non-Rotary volunteers Raelyn and Dylan VanDenEynde and Michelle Owen.
Rotarian Courtney Hitt is the coordinator for this service project. Although she wasn’t able to serve on this particular date, Courtney ensures that Plano West Rotary members are aware of the project and know how to get signed up for the volunteer training. Supporting POWS is one way that Plano West Rotary supports Rotary’s focus on providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene. The services provided at POWS are things that many Plano residents may take for granted, but are services and goods that these guests don’t have on a regular basis. Having access to them helps protect their health and well-being. POWS is completely staffed by volunteers.
Other than a few paid employees, the entire operation is run by unpaid volunteers. Without enough volunteers, POWS either doesn't open at all, or will open without the ability to provide all services. Plano West Rotary Club members have volunteered at POWS since the ice storm of February 2021, when Plano residents were made more aware of the critical necessity of the warming station. It was a serious reminder that we are all in this together, and Rotarians have taken an oath to provide Service Above Self.