Tuesday, March 3, 2015 by Serena Egan
With this winter being one of the coldest and longest in recent years, the Code Blue emergency shelter’s second year of operation was able to give food and shelter to a record number of the homeless in Saratoga Springs over the past three months. Started by Mayor Joanne Yepsen and others in December 2013, Code Blue provides meals, showers, resources, and a place to sleep for anyone who shows up. The shelter is open when temperatures drop below 20 degrees or when snowfall accumulates to more than 12 inches. Code Blue is staffed fully by volunteers who fill duties ranging from providing companionship to the guests to serving and cleaning up breakfast. All supplies, food, and clothing are donated by local businesses.
Some positions require prior training, but others are open to all volunteers. Senior Claire Murphy volunteered at Code Blue over February break, helping to cook and serve breakfast for guests.
“It was a really eye-opening experience, seeing just how chronic the homelessness problem is in Saratoga. It’s easy to look the other way when you don’t know just how many people it affects,” Murphy said of her experience. “The people staying at the shelter ranged from college aged to elderly. A lot of them were people who you wouldn’t expect to be homeless and who really seemed to be trying to get their life on back on track, and it’s great to see a program like Code Blue helping them to do that.”
There are many opportunities to help Code Blue, whether at the shelter or by aiding in fundraising. On Saturday, March 7th, a benefit performance of “The God Box: A Daughter’s Story” will be held at the National Museum of Dance, with all proceeds benefitting the program. The Saratoga Springs restaurant Mingle on the Avenue holds weekly “Attitude of Gratitude” Mondays, when 15% of all bills are donated to Code Blue. Also, until the snow melts or the temperatures rise, there is always a need for nightly volunteers to staff the program.