With a newly painted interior, finished floors and a new executive director, Windham No Freeze Hospitality Center Inc. officials say they are now ready to serve those most in need.
The center, at 1110 Main St., is operated by the non-profit group and provides a space where homeless men and women can come in out of the cold and be safe.*
“We’re quite excited about it actually,” said John Burton, chairman of the no-freeze board of directors, adding directors feel as though they have a good base of community support heading into the season.
The shelter also has had some improvements which include new paint, finished floors, bunk beds instead of cots, wall art and more volunteers than previous years.
Burton said the new space will be “more hospitable.”
The shelter also has a new executive director.
Leigh Duffy replaces David Fenn, who had served as the center’s executive director since 2006.
Duffy said the hours this year will be extended, with the center operating from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and it will maintain its 28-person capacity.
She said there will also be office hours Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. for people to drop off donations. People can also call (860) 450-1346 to make arrangements.
Duffy said the shelter still needs shampoo, blankets, pillows, sheets, bedding and plain white socks.
Duffy added that at a recent training session, there was an abundance of volunteers.
“I am very excited to be in this role,” Duffy said in a statement. “I was there from the beginning, have volunteered overnight and helped to bring services to the shelter, as well.”
“She’s absolutely a collaborator,” Burton said of Duffy, adding she’s one of the founders of the project and has a “real passion” for the community and the shelter.
The local shelter shares space with Dan’s Adult World, an adult bookstore, which is located in the rear of the building.
This season will be the third year at the Main Street building.
Guests at the shelter are provided with a place to sleep, bedding, toiletries for showers, coffee and a meal on Saturday nights when the local soup kitchen does not operate.
The no-freeze shelter also recommends outreach services to its guests.
Donations to the No Freeze Hospitality Center can be sent to: The Windham No Freeze Project, P.O. Box 46, Willimantic 06226.
A fundraising event is planned for Jan. 22 at the Willimantic Elks Club, when four bands will play at a birthday bash for Bruce John, with the proceeds going to the shelter.
*The Holy Family Shelter on Jackson Street specifically serves women and children.