In Response to Arctic Blast, Code Purple Locations Open Across D - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

In Response to Arctic Blast, Code Purple Locations Open Across Delaware

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(Photo: WBOC File) (Photo: WBOC File)
DOVER, Del.- With wind chills expected to drop below zero across Delaware Wednesday night into Thursday morning, volunteer-organized and staffed Code Purple locations are opening across the state.

Code Purple sites in all three counties typically are located at houses of worship and community centers. The sites provide warm and short-term housing and hot meals to individuals and families who are homeless when winter-weather conditions – low temperatures, gusty winds, low wind chills, or heavy snow – make it difficult for anyone to be outside for extended periods. 

At the Milford Community Center, the doors prepared to open up for the first time at 5 p.m. Pastor Richard Portalatin said that the center would remain open, throughout the "Code Purple" designation, which the city said will be through Sunday evening.

"Once upon a time, I was homeless," said Portalatin. "And I know what it's like to be out there in the cold. And you can be out there for just four hours - three hours - and on a 30 degree weather - you can hardly move. It hurts." 

Portalatin said that the shelter will help those in need by feeding them, clothing them, and by providing beds overnight. Portalatin was the main advocate for bringing the "Code Purple" program down to Milford. 

"Cold Purple gets them off the street and into the warmth," he said. "they do not need to stay on the streets at night behind dumpsters. In their cars. In the emergency rooms." 

On Wednesday morning, a woman who only went by Sarah was at the shelter with her 2-year old son. She said that the two were in between permanent homes, which made her appreciative of such a program. 

"It's a scary thing," she said looking at her son. "Because he's my responsibility. He's my life. This weather can get him sick." 

The shelter is paid for through grants and donations. The city's only role is to raise awareness for the shelter designations, and to point those in need in the right direction. Mayor Bryan Shupe said that this is a positive way to help those in need. 

"I think it's a great program," he said. "A lot of time in this office we're talking about economic development. We're talking about downtown revitalization. And unfortunately sometimes we forget about those who are less fortunate."

Since Code Purple sites use volunteers to manage operations, the activation and implementation vary by county and site. To be connected to Code Purple resources, call Delaware 2-1-1, search for “Code Purple” on the Delaware 2-1-1 mobile app or on its website at www.delaware211.org.

Locations include:

Kent County: Code Purple is in effect through Friday, Jan. 9. Morning leave time is 7 a.m. for each day listed. Sanctuaries will be closed as of Saturday, Jan. 10, at 7 a.m. unless further noticed. Call 1-800-733-6816 for any further updates this week. The schedule and locations:

Wednesday, Jan. 7

  • Dover Presbyterian Church (men only), opens at 5 p.m. Note: Overflow to Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing.
  • Wesley United Methodist Church (women and children) opens at 5 p.m.
  • Milford Community Center (women and children only), opens at 5 p.m., direct line (302) 725-0770.
Thursday, Jan. 8

  • Dover Presbyterian Church (men only), opens at 5 p.m. Note: Overflow to Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing.
  • Wesley United Methodist Church (women and children only), opens at 5 p.m.
  • Wyoming Methodist Church (women and children only), opens at 6 p.m.
  • Milford Community Center (women and children), opens at 5 p.m., direct line (302) 725-0770.
Friday, Jan. 9

  • Dover Presbyterian Church (men only), opens at 5 p.m. Note: Overflow to Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing.
  • Shepherd's Place (women and children only), opens at 5 p.m.
  • Wyoming Methodist Church (women and children only), opens at 6 p.m.
  • Milford Community Center (women and children), opens at 5 p.m., direct line (302) 725-0770.

Addresses for the sanctuaries:
  • Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing, 684 Forest St., Dover. (302) 736-3600.
  • Dover Presbyterian Church, 54 S, State St., Dover (entrance is on Reed Street).
  • Milford Community Center, 105 NE Front St., Milford.
  • Shepherd's Place, 1362 S Governor's Ave., Dover.
  • Wesley United Methodist Church, 209 S. State St., Dover (building behind the church on East North Street with purple lights in the window).
  • Wyoming United Methodist Church, 216 Wyoming Mill Road, Dover.
Sussex County: While there is not a defined lead agency that officially activates Code Purple, there are several local champions and Code Purple sites that lead efforts to support people who are homeless in Sussex County. These include:

Eastern Sussex: Faith Methodist United Methodist Church supports the operation of Immanuel Emergency Shelter, 37439 Oyster House Road, Rehoboth Beach, from Monday through Friday throughout the winter. Call Janice at 302-212-2971.

Western Sussex: Seaford Interfaith Code Purple Mission Inc., has declared Code Purple through Sunday and has opened its shelter for men and women at Stein Highway Church of God, 425 E. Stein Highway, Seaford. Hours are from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Note: The church operates a day-care center from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The site will have slightly extended hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Call Niki at (302) 519-0024.

Many of the Code Purple sites across the state often need more volunteers, and more donations of money, sleeping supplies and food. The list of needed items include: blankets, cots, sleeping bags, towels and wash cloths, hand wipes and sanitizers, feminine products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, disinfectant spray, hats, scarves, gloves, boots, long underwear, coats, hand or feet warmers, bottled water, pre-cooked or frozen meals, instant hot drinks, ready-to-eat food with easy-opening lids, and garbage bags.

“Until government and nonprofit partners can find transitional or permanent housing for the hundreds of individuals and families who are homeless in our state, we are grateful that Code Purple sites will provide people in need with a warm place to stay, a hearty meal and a welcoming hand on the worst days so far this winter,” Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said.
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