Relief From The Cold: Montclair Township and Local Funders Support Daytime Warming Centers

Montclair, NJ – Daytime warming centers in three Montclair locations are now open for individuals without a permanent home at the Salvation Army, Toni’s Kitchen, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair (staffed by Montclair Emergency Services for Hope, Inc., or MESH). The sites will be available parts of each day, seven days a week, through April 3.

A partnership to address the need for daytime warming centers was formed in early 2021 as part of the nonprofit subcommittee of the Township’s COVID-19 Task Force. The subcommittee convened emergency meetings to respond to yet another crisis situation triggered by the pandemic – lack of daytime facilities for Montclair’s unhoused population.

“In past winters, more public spaces would have been open to provide respite from the cold,” said Anne Mernin, Executive Director of Toni’s Kitchen at St. Luke’s Church and subcommittee member. “However, because of COVID, many of these spaces remain closed or have limited capacity that make it unsafe for gathering.”

The four organizations involved in the program in 2021 met to discuss requirements for 2022 and approached the Mayor and Township Council for funding.

The Council approved a $10,000 grant, and four local funders contributed a combined total of $11,000 to provide additional program support. The Montclair Funders include: The Montclair Foundation, The Montclair Fund for Women, Partners for Health Foundation, and The Schumann Fund for New Jersey. The funds will be used to support the three warming center locations and the participating organizations will collaborate to cover the staffing schedule.

The Montclair Funders are part of an informal network of local philanthropic organizations that meet regularly to share information about community needs, resources and opportunities to work together. The Funders began meeting in the Spring of 2020, during the early days of the pandemic, to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the community and to explore opportunities to provide emergency support to the local safety net of nonprofit organizations. Other funders that regularly attend the meetings are the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, and Women for Progress.

“Connecting with other funders on a regular basis has been helpful from many perspectives, said Pam Scott, Executive Director of Partners for Health. “We’ve shared information about community needs while also supporting one another during this ongoing health and economic crisis.”

“This is an example of government and local organizations supporting those who are most in need,” said Fourth Ward Councilor David Cummings. “For me, this is a very important undertaking and I hope that we can do more for our unhoused population in the future. It’s great to work with all the groups who collaborated to make this happen.”

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