Brighter Days Housing, an emergency housing facility in Columbus, will extend its hours this weekend to protect people who need shelter from the brutal arctic cold enveloping the area.

The housing facility, which opened slightly more than a year ago in a former township firetruck maintenance facility at 421 S. Mapleton St. on the east side of Columbus, will allow clients using the facility for overnight housing to stay inside throughout the day Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which is the New Year’s holiday weekend.

Weather forecasters are predicting lows to dip below zero over the weekend and highs only in the single digits to the teens, along with a chance of snow.

Brighter Days officials came up with the plan after discussions about many places their clients go during the day that are closed on holiday weekends, creating a possible danger with the extremely cold and snowy weather, said Elizabeth Kestler, executive director of Love Chapel, Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches.

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This week, the approximately 30 clients who have been staying at the shelter have been directed to the Recovery Engagement Center, which is near Brighter Days at 1951 McKinley Ave., which serves as a sort of community drop-in center to obtain community services.

The engagement center is a partnership between Centerstone and Columbus Township Trustee Ben Jackson, who said in an earlier interview that clients at Brighter Days are encouraged to use the center as a drop-in center on weekdays when they leave the housing facility each morning.

Brighter Days, with a capacity of 36 individuals staying in two bunk areas separated by gender, and three to four staff members, normally checks in clients from 6 to 9 p.m. each night and then serves them a continental breakfast in the morning before clients leave between 9 and 9:30 a.m. daily.

In addition to the recovery center, clients sometimes head to local retail stores or public government buildings such as The Commons or the Bartholomew County Public Library to escape extreme weather — but in the case of the holiday weekend, some of these places will be closed, Kestler said.

Some of the clients will have family or friends to visit during the daytime hours of the weekend, but Brighter Days will be providing lunch and activities such as movies for those who have nowhere else to go, she said.

With the extended hours, Brighter Days is in need of more volunteers to provide supervision and help with daytime activities, Kestler said.

The facility has 61 active volunteers who are helping out at least once a month, but 12 volunteers minimum are needed for each 24-hour shift each day, she said.

About Brighter Days

Location: 421 S. Mapleton St.

Telephone: 812-344-4512

What it is: Emergency housing facility for individuals age 18 and older who are homeless in Bartholomew County. Love Chapel, the Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches, provides volunteers and staff to run the facility and Columbus Township and its trustee Ben Jackson provides the building and upkeep on the facility.

Capacity: 36 individuals and three to four staff members, with clients separated by gender into two bunk areas.

Check-in: 6 to 9 p.m. each night. Guests receive a continental breakfast in the morning and are referred to meal sites in Columbus.

How to help

Anyone 18 years old or older who is willing to help out this weekend is asked to email lovechapeldirector@columbuslovechapel.com. For other inquiries or to volunteer sometime in the future, email volunteer@columbuslovechapel.com, Kestler said. A basic screening process is conducted for volunteers.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.