Today, the Warming Center, a collaborative effort of The Trenton Areas Soup Kitchen and The Rescue Mission of Trenton, will close its doors for the season, with meals and a place to stay being transferred to The Mission’s Day and Nightly Emergency Shelter, open around-the-clock, 365-days-a -year.

From December of 2020 until yesterday, April 16, 2021, on average, just shy of 250 individuals each month were kept from the ravages of winter because of the new Warming Center. Throughout that time, 124 other individuals who had never come to The Mission before, found refuge from the long, pandemic winter.

Barrett Young, Chief Executive Officer of The Mission said, “Just before winter was approaching, and Covid-19 was still raging, the leadership of both of our organizations knew we had to do something different this year. So, we started planning.”

He continued, “Traditionally, to keep warm, those who had nowhere else to turn would come to The Mission and stay in our Center for a meal, spend the day and/or night, and possibly receive counseling; or they would go to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, where they could eat, then linger and receive services from staff and volunteers.”

However, neither the Mission nor the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen was able to safely accommodate the number of individuals they had in previous winters because of the need for social distancing in response to the pandemic.

With consideration and quick thinking,  the Warming Center was created.

Warming Center visitor Timothy | Photo provided by The Rescue Mission of Trenton

“We started renovating the area where our Thrift Store was,” said Young, “and Joyce Campbell, Executive Director of The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, and her team committed to providing food. Then, fortunately, the Princeton Area Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund provided a significant grant, then individual donations and a partnership with Mercer County helped to fund the rest.”

“We just started planning and believing,” added Campbell. “Then, gratefully, because of the compassion and generosity of our community, we were able to make it happen.”

One center goer, Timothy, who received shelter at the Warming Center  said the space gave, “those of us who are not having the best times in our lives an opportunity to be safe – and a second chance to get back up on our feet.”

Warming Center visitor Eric | Photo provided by The Rescue Mission of Trenton

A second resident, Eric, who came to the Warming Center to keep, “safe from domestic violence,” said he found “a place to volunteer by cleaning and helping retrieve lunch.” He did this while case workers helped him to obtain housing.

“If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us the beauty of what can occur when multiple agencies come together for the common good of those for whom we serve,” said Young.

“That is so true,” Campbell added. “We have always been strong collaborators, and now, having reached people we would not have otherwise, this has been a valuable undertaking.”