Repairers of the Breach opens emergency shelter for second night

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) – With temperatures in the teens and the wind chill dropping into the single digits, exposure to the elements can be life-threatening, especially for those without a home. With seasonable January weather back in the Milwaukee area, officials with Repairers of the Breach have opened the emergency shelter for the second night on Monday, January 14th.

For John McQuay, who has been homeless for nearly two years, winter means scrambling to find a warm place to stay.

“My hands were so cold, the tips of my fingers were numb.  It was unbearable.  Someone would have died outside and I might have been one of those victims,” McQuay said.

McQuay found that Repairers of the Breach was stepping in to help those like him. 

Repairers of the Breach is normally a daytime outreach center on Vliet Street. But on Sunday night, the center went into its 24-hour, winter weather operation - opening an overnight shelter to men and women to keep them out of the cold.

“It was very warm and everyone here was very kind,” McQuay said.

19 people stayed in one of three rooms equipped with chairs, lounges and plenty of blankets.  There was also clothing, food and a clinic for medical treatment available.  

Repairers of the Breach staff members actually helped save the life of one man.

“His frostbite was so severe after being in the same pair of wet socks for over a week and being exposed to the elements, where the patient was so close to needing the toes amputated,” clinic coordinator Debbie Minski-Kelly said.

Since the temperatures are expected to drop to the teens again on Monday, the emergency shelter will be open for a second straight night.  It’s another night McQuay can find refuge from the elements and a temporary place to call home.

“I'd probably be in an abandoned building.  I'm just grateful there are places like this,” McQuay said.

When the forecast calls for a wind-chill of 10 degrees or below, facility goes into 24-hour emergency shelter mode.  That decision is made on a daily basis.

To keep the shelter open and provide services, Repairers of the Breach runs mostly off of private contributions.  If you would like to help, material goods can be dropped off at its location at 1335 W. Vliet St.  Financial donations can be made to Repairers of the Breach, P.O. Box 13791, Milwaukee, WI 53213.

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