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CHH Community Partnership Provides Winter Shelter

January 11, 2023

Charlotte Hungerford Hospital is partnering with The Gathering Place and the Northwestern Connecticut YMCA to provide a cold weather shelter in Winsted for homeless individuals and families. Brain Mattiello, senior system director for social impact, strategy and integration at Hartford HealthCare, said the former emergency room space was vacant, and he heard that the groups were having trouble finding an affordable space for a shelter this winter. With CHH leadership approval, the community partners secured town approval. “There was a real concern about finding an appropriate space, and it was gratifying to know our vacant space could fill the need,” Mattiello says. At a recent press conference, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, state Reps. Michelle Cook and Jay Case drew awareness to the need for such cold weather shelters around the state.

High demand

The location, on Spencer Street, opened in early December and can house up to 39 individuals. Some days, more than 20 people use the facility and demand is expected to grow. The site is part of a state network of cold weather overflow shelters which help handle the higher demand for warm shelter in the wintertime. CHH Emergency Department patients who face housing access issues can be referred, and people can call 211 for information on emergency housing. Greg Brisco, CEO of Northwestern Connecticut YMCA, and Will Donahue, director of operations, housing and shelter programs, said the local fire department provided cots, and the Red Cross supplied blankets and pillows. There is a main bay for male clients, and individual rooms for families or females. The shelter is open from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week. The Community Soup Kitchen of Torrington have provided meals. In the morning, people can go to the Gathering Place, a homeless service hub in the northwest corner, for showers, laundry and other services if needed. The facility will stay open through April 15. “Guests have shared their appreciation for the staff and the space,” says Nancy Cannavo, regional homeless outreach coordinator and president of the Gathering Place. Clients have been primarily male, she says, but a few families and young adults have also stayed.

How you can help

Donations of coffee supplies, bottled water, socks, underwear and gently used or new, clean pillows and blankets are welcome. Items can be dropped off at the Gathering Place, 21 Prospect St., Torrington.