Volunteer raising money to help women's homeless shelter

NOW: Volunteer raising money to help women’s homeless shelter

South Bend, Ind., -- A volunteer at a local homeless shelter is asking the community to help provide a weather amnesty attendant. 

Each night, women from all over South Bend sleep on mats at Life Treatment Center on South Michigan Street. During the day, the center is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. But during the winter months, it opens up it's doors at night to women who need a place to sleep. 

“All different ages, all different racial backgrounds. They’re as diverse as our community is diverse," said Willow Wetherall. Wetherall is a volunteer at Life Treatment Center. “They’ve experienced some really difficult challenges."

It's the only winter amnesty shelter for women in South Bend.  Currently, the shelter can house 10 women a night. But as the temperature drops outside, the number of women seeking shelter rises. Officials with the shelter said they are housing 16-18 women a night. The increase in women is stretching the center's overnight staff thin, and preventing them from focusing on their primary patients, who are there for substance abuse. 

Understanding this problem, Wetherall decided she could help. She talked with Life Treatment Center's CEO Julia Shapiro. Together the two decided the shelter needed a weather amnesty attendant. Soon after, Wetherall began a GoFundMe page asking people in South Bend to donate. 

“The quickest way that I knew to do that was start asking friends and organizations that I know and put out a public call for donations," Wetherall said. 

A weather amnesty attendant provides support and supervises the women who spend the night.

“It’s not rocket science, but it’s a mixture of compassion and care and boundaries and security," Wetherall said. 

And as the GoFundMe campaign near it's target of $4,000, staff at Life Treatment Centers are looking forward to the help taking a load off of the staff members' backs. 

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