Nonprofits caring for elderly, homeless during icy weather

Salvation Army prepares cots for those seeking shelter from the cold. (KXAN photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The potential for some serious winter weather has multiple local organizations working overtime to make sure the elderly have a meal to eat and the homeless have a place to stay.

It’s not often winter weather threatens to shut down everyday services in Central Texas. In fact, at the Meals On Wheels headquarters leaders only remember it happening twice in the past seven years.

“Every so often the weather just means we can’t deliver,” said Meals on Wheels vice president of communications Thad Rosenfeld.

The organization delivers 3,000 meals a day to the elderly across seven counties. In some cases, Rosenfeld says it’s their only substantial meal. So, the organization says they are prepared when weather threatens operation.

“Once a year we deliver a shelf-stable meal to each of our clients with instructions that they are supposed to hang on to that meal for situations just like this where weather may mean we can’t deliver a meal, they know they can eat that shelf-stable meal,” said Rosenfeld.

The group is also working with their most at-risk clients who are stuck inside to make sure they are prepared.

“I would encourage folks who have older home-bound neighbors to please check on them during this cold snap because so many of them live alone and it’s so important for them to get those daily safety checks,” said Rosenfeld.  “You know we always talk about pipes and pets and plants, but also check on those elderly neighbors, they would appreciate it.”

Meals on Wheels has not officially decided if they will deliver on Tuesday. Rosenfeld says the organization expects to make that decision around 3 a.m. and will send a message to all clients and volunteers.

The Salvation Army is also stepping up and preparing for the cold. “This is where we house women every night,” said Major Andrew Kelly with the Salvation Army.

Most nights they average around 250 people, on nights like Monday, they could be pushing 300.

“People already need a place to stay anyway but when it’s on a cold night it’s all the more important because it’s a life-threatening situation to be out in the freezing cold”

Outside the Salvation Army a bus will also run to and from different shelters around town in case those downtown fill up.

“They can come to the Salvation Army and they can come to the ARCH. We have a bus that will be out here that will transport people to additional shelters, or if we have room on our floors or in our beds we can have people come in, we just don’t want anybody to stay out in the cold,” said Kelly.

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