A cold snap that will send night time temperatures dipping into the teens over the next few days is keeping a local non-profit agency on its toes.
"If you are without heat, maybe because your furnace broke or you are without a permanent home, we want you to know we are here. It's simply a place for individuals and families to get warm and be safe," said Angela Proper, executive director of The Pointe. "It's for anyone. No questions asked."
The Pointe, a private organization funded by charitable trusts, churches, Venango County and other sources, is a drop-in center located in the former Northwest Savings Bank building at 259 Seneca St. in Oil City.
Its daytime mission is to promote recovery and community awareness for individuals who struggle with mental health difficulties as well a recovery.
"If you are 18 years or older with a lived mental health experience, really anything within the mental health realm, this drop-in center is open to you," said Proper, executive director since January 2017. "It is a socialization drop-in center where you can come and go as you please, open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday."
While The Pointe offers a retinue of services that range from a public cafe to entertainment, craft classes, pool league, advocacy services and networking with available resources, its agenda ramps up with frigid weather.
The facility switches over from drop-in center during the daytime to heated overnight accommodations for anyone who is lacking household heat.
"We have a warming center, open 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. when activated," said Proper. "It's open free to adults and families who can sleep here, take showers, get something to eat, do laundry."
The activation is sparked when temperatures are 20 degrees or less, with or without a wind chill.
The National Weather Service is forecasting that scenario today through at least Monday with overnight temperatures predicted to be 17 degrees tonight, 20 degrees Friday and Saturday and mid-teens Sunday and Monday.
'No judgment, no charge'
Proper said individuals, regardless of background, who need "a warm place for the night" need only to show up at the center. There is no charge for the accommodations which include sleeping mats, blankets, showers, snacks and more.
The center is staffed during the extended hours.
"We are not just here, though, to keep people warm," said Proper. "In the morning, we don't just say, 'okay, good luck' and send them on their way. We will try to connect them with resources."
The Pointe's warming center was activated earlier this season. There have been 11 nights with frigid temperatures since the end of November and "four to five people" used the center each of those nights, said Proper.
"It's a place to get warm, to be safe and to get help," said the director. " Just come. No judgment, no charge."
Other services available
The Pointe also supports a Center Town Cafe, located at 250 Elm St. just behind the drop-in center. Open to the public, the free luncheons are available from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Donations are accepted and take-outs are available.
The center stocks clothing, personal hygiene items, blankets and more for distribution. Laundry and shower facilities are available. Services ranging from faxing to grocery shopping and internet/phone are provided.
Warm Line, a non-crisis telephone service, offers peer support when a caller is seeking someone to talk to or to listen, said Proper.
"In all of this, we work to give people resources, contacts, support and encouragement," she said. "The Warming Center is another part of that and is open to any individual or family who needs a warm place to go. And we know the cold is coming."