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Staunton: Brown bag lunch series to address homelessness, role of thermal shelters

Crystal Graham
homeless soup winter
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Thermal or cold-weather shelters will be the topic of a discussion on Friday as part of a Lunch & Learn series to address housing insecurity in the region.

Hunter McMillon, the cold weather shelter manager for Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministries, will talk about homelessness and cold weather housing solutions at noon at Central United Methodist Church in Staunton.

Participation in the brown bag lunch series is free.

“I hope people leave with more of an open mind on how homelessness affects folks, how people enter (homelessness), and how it impacts their daily lives,” McMillon said. “I’d say anyone who is interested in learning how they can beneficially impact our community should come out.”

The Lunch & Learn series was created as an extension of a SAW Housing Summit, which was held in October. The two-day event was a collaborative effort of Augusta Health, Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, Valley Community Services Board, the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission and the Valley Homeless Connection.

Knowing that a two-day summit couldn’t exhaust all of the topics around housing insecurity in our community, the Lunch & Learn series serves as a way to continue conversations on the issue.

“Without fanfare or desire for accolades, Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministries works tirelessly each year to coordinate and manage a low-barrier shelter during the winter months,” said Dan Layman, CEO of the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge. “It’s important for everyone to know why this is needed in our community, who it serves, and how it is done.”

Previous topics have included renter’s rights, Housing First as a methodology, property managers, accessible housing and permanent supportive housing.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.