Resources for local unhoused populations: where to go and how to help

MADISON, Wis. — In light of the below-freezing temperatures and icy roads, local health officials are urging caution: stay indoors and bundle up. For many in the area experiencing homelessness this season, that isn’t so easily done, which is why organizations like The Beacon are offering resources to keep people warm.

The organization, situated on East Washington Ave. since 2016, relies heavily on community volunteers to run its services, which include laundry, meals, and showers.

According to program director Kimberly Tesch, those volunteers are one of the main things The Beacon needs this season.

“It takes a community to be able to help the housing instability that we have,” she said. 

If you’re unable to volunteer at the shelter, open 8 am to 5 pm, you could also donate.

Some of the more vital items they need right now include hats, boots, hand and toe warmers, gloves, and sleeping bags. Tesch says the shelter prefers new garments or pre-washed used ones to avoid potential COVID outbreaks. Hand-knit materials also tend to pose problems as they can absorb moisture and freeze.

One thing that seems to be forgotten in many donations? Thermals.

“Layering is important to be able to survive the night,” she said. “That’s one thing that’s kind of forgotten.”

Above all, Tesch says it’s important to look out for people experiencing homelessness in your community, and offer help when you can.

 “Just remember that that’s your brothers, your sisters, and them out there,” she said. “It takes a community to be able to help the housing instability that we have.”