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From Don Fornoff of the Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness:

The Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness recently discussed the need for cooling centers in our communities. These are the basics, as presented by Task Force member Brett Bowten-Meade. Added information will be forthcoming as the Task Force reviews ideas and experiences for this fairly new idea.

Early May is a good time to get started on planning, as summer heat domes are a likely occurrence this year and every year. We recommend being ‘Church In Community,’ to support parishioners and neighbors, and homeless neighbors. We encourage that your parish plan to open during periods of consecutive days of temperatures over 90 degrees. We know the heat waves are coming. Our churches are generally cool without air conditioning, and volunteer staff would be required only during the hottest periods of the day, say from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. People will come if a welcome is extended.

Heat related risks are particularly significant in our area because home and apartment air conditioning is not common, especially for lower income households. Those who suffer and risk heat related illness include the homeless, elderly, children, those who work outside, and those with mental illness or chronic medical conditions. Some medicines can adversely affect the body’s cooling systems. Even a few hours a day can help avoid these heat related medical risks.

Studies have shown that nearly 20% of people seek cool locations during heat waves, and they use informal cooling locations more than formal cooling centers. Accessibility and trusted locations are important, especially for those without a car. Success is in the details. The Task Force urges your church to visit our web site at Contact us directly if you would like more information or would like to join other parishes in our Diocese in this activity.

Further contacts: Don Fornoff (, Jeffrey Boyce (, and Brett Bowten-Meade (

Inviting Episcopal Churches to Open Cooling Centers

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