Give Back Tahoe: Emergency Cold Weather Warming Center saves lives

Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — A “good” North Tahoe-Truckee winter is measured in inches. With ski resorts reporting as many as 346 to 465 inches of snowfall, residents and visitors were grateful to the snow gods for the first good winter in years.

High snow also means cold and stormy conditions. In previous years, those without homes or heat sources were left on their own to brave the most brutal elements, and some lost their lives. Our community changed that this year.

The Emergency Cold Weather Warming Center opened for its first winter December 24, 2015, through April 30. The goal was simple: to stop people from dying due to extreme weather. EWC opening was triggered when the forecast predicted 15 degrees or colder, more than a foot of snow overnight, or extreme blizzards, winds or rainfalls.

Open twenty-five nights, the EWC served twenty-four individuals, a family of four and four pups for a total of 115 overnight stays. Even more people were provided sleeping bags, warm clothing, boots, food and other basic needs.

Our community’s immense support of this effort is one that makes a person proud to call North Tahoe – Truckee home. United for Action (UFA), a coalition of faith-based organizations, nonprofits and the counties, led the cause.

Truckee’s Church of the Mountains offered to host the guests, and when the matter was brought to the Truckee Planning Commission, people lined the room in support. By the end of the season, 153 volunteers gave more than 850 volunteer hours to provide meals, supplies, monetary donations and volunteer shifts.

Guests faced common challenges including physical disability, mental illness, substance abuse, family dynamics, and lack of employment and affordable housing options.

More than a temporary solution, the EWC filled a gap in our regional network of critical needs services. Guests were connected with relatives, support organizations and resources.

So far, no deaths due to conditions have been reported.

The EWC team thanks all who donated goods, time and dollars. A special thanks goes to those who provided grants and major funding: Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, Martis Camp Community Foundation, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church and Episcopal Community Services of Northern California, Stefanie Olivieri, Truckee Tahoe Airport District, Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian Church, Placer County, and The California – Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Celebrate the successful season on June 1 at Church of the Mountains from 5:30-7:00pm. There will be treats as well as a quick EWC recap.

To help, contact Cathie Foley, EWC Coordinator, at or 775-690-7694.

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