Catherine Baker, ’Doah Staff Writer
March 6, 2013
Ever thought about getting involved with the community, but never had the chance to try it? Want the satisfaction of helping others? Then, I suggest you volunteer your time to the WATTS program.
WATTS, or Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter, is a program in the Winchester area where local churches house homeless guests for a week at a time from November to March each year — the coldest months of the year. Each visitor is given a bed, along with three meals a day. Guests that stay at the church for one night are guaranteed a bed the following night.
Senior Leslie Purcell and juniors Emily Ehrgott and Alex Woody initiated Shenandoah’s involvement with WATTS.
“Two years ago, a group of us on the Spiritual Life work study team were asked to figure out how Shenandoah could get involved,” says Ehrgott. “We collaborated with the shelter and Sodexo, and decided to provide and serve dinner Sunday nights and afterwards provide a Bible study.”
Shenandoah University’s Spiritual Life has continued their involvement into 2013, with the Conservatory, specifically the music therapy program, becoming more involved by providing music before and during dinner. In addition, various athletic teams such as men’s lacrosse, cheerleading, softball, and both men’s and women’s tennis teams have contributed their time.
“This organization is more than just bringing a warm meal… We sit and talk with the guests,” said Woody. “The beauty of participating in every week of WATTS [is that] we see the same guests each week. You begin to learn people’s names and stories and in return they learn your name and story. The excitement on the faces of guests when they see you and genuinely ask how your week went or how those test in your classes went is something beautiful.”
The Winchester community appreciates all of the efforts of the WATTS program. Everybody on campus is also encouraged to participate. The dates remaining to help out during the semester are March 10 and 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.
“WATTS’s mission statement is to provide safe, temporary, overnight, cold-weather shelter. But I strongly believe it is more than that. We are building community and relationships with people that will last far beyond the cold-weather months.” said Woody.
For more information, contact Spiritual Life consultants Ehrgott at firstname.lastname@example.org or Woody at email@example.com.