Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Red Cross Shelters Everyone by Jennifer Howard

Westview Primary was a special needs shelter that opened in the Charleston area. Special needs shelters serve residents who live independently, but whose lives depend on electricity, for items like refrigeration for diabetes medicines and oxygen for breathing. The clients that were sheltered here reside in communities all across the Lowcountry from Johns Island to North Charleston.  

Shelter manager Lornia Winnen has lived in the Lowcountry for more than 20 years and has volunteered for the Red Cross for 15 years. "I want to make a difference and let people know we care." She shared that the shelter "ends up being life sustaining" for residents.  

In addition to her responsibilities for opening and managing the shelter, Lornia said that the Red Cross is a "big morale boost" for these clients. "When they come here, they are often scared and anxious. If they have not planned ahead, they may not know where they are going when they leave home.  And once they arrive to the shelter, they don't know what is going on with their home." As she laughed, told stories and listened, it was clear that there is a lot more to running a shelter than purely logistics.  

Shelter partners: Berkeley County EMS, Berkeley County Schools, DSS/DHEC, Berkeley County  Sheriff's Department/Goose Creek Police.  

Shelter Client: Reynaldo Acosta from Johns Island is staying at the shelter with his therapy dogs, Samantha and Thurston, who are trained to help alert him of changes in his blood sugar.  Having been through four hurricanes in Florida, Reynaldo is well-accustomed to the uncertainty that comes with leaving home for a shelter.  

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