The Jefferson County Winter Shelter

Most of us take our homes and the protection they provide for granted. However, some in our community find themselves huddling up against a downtown building to get out of the wind and snow during the cold Central Oregon nights. While having a safe and warm place to spend the night hasn’t always been an option for everyone in our community; this winter in Madras will be different. Shepherd’s House Ministries, Jefferson County Faith-Based Network, the Madras Gospel Mission, First Baptist Church, Living Hope Church, Metolius Friends Church, Madras Free Methodist Church and Cornerstone Baptist Church have partnered together to provide shelter on the coldest of nights to individuals who would otherwise spend the night outside. When night temperatures are predicted to be below 32 degrees the shelter will be opened at 6:00 PM. By checking the winter shelter voice message after 2:00 PM (541-325-2478) individuals can know whether or not the shelter will be open for the night. Shelter staff will be on sight each night to register the guests, provide a simple hot meal, engage in conversation, play board games, and help the guests get settled for the night. There are shelter guidelines and policies that help to make the shelter a comfortable and safe place for each guest. Guests that don’t comply with the guidelines and policies are asked to leave the shelter. Once a guest leaves the shelter they are not allowed to return later that night. Shelter staff stay awake during the night so guests can rest knowing their possessions are secure and they are safe. In the morning guests help clean up the shelter area, are fed a hot breakfast and leave the shelter by 7:00 AM.
The first night the shelter was open in early November there were only two individuals who stayed the night, but within a couple of weeks word about the shelter had spread. The shelter now regularly hosts 15 or more people each night. The shelter provides a place for the sheriff and police to direct homeless individuals to so they are not spending the night “camped” on private property or in the doorways or entries of businesses. The hospital emergency room has also directed an individual who was being released from the ER but didn’t have any place to go for the night to the shelter. Increasingly, the information about the shelter is being disseminated throughout the community.
The winter shelter has been supported by scores of businesses and individuals in our community through in-kind donations and cash gifts. Some of the shelter’s generous donors include: Phil’s ACE Hardware, The Madras Pioneer, the City of Madras, Jefferson County Fire District #1, Jefferson County Health Department, Madison Laundry, the Community Food Network, LINC, Boy Scout Troop #65, St. Charles-Madras, Bank of the Cascades, NeighborImpact, Oregon Beef, COSI and many, many individual families. Donating to the Jefferson County Winter Shelter is easy to do online through Shepherd’s House Ministiries website. Go to and click on the “Donate” tab at the top of the home page. Scroll down the page and click on the “Jefferson County Cold Weather Shelter” button. Through a collaborative effort we can make a difference in our community.