Note: We published this post ahead of the Nov. 8, 2022 activation. For most current activation status, visit the Egan Warming Centers program page.
Egan Warming Centers, administered by the nonprofit St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVdP), is a lifesaving network in place to shelter local unhoused residents one night at a time when subfreezing temperatures descend on Eugene-Springfield.
The program’s operational season typically begins Nov. 15 and ends March 31, with nighttime activations as necessary during that period. Because of earlier freezing conditions this week, however, the warming centers will open on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The potential exists for extended activations if weather forecasts hold.
Egan host sites can change through the cold season based on availability. These three warming centers in Eugene and Springfield — all accessible and allowing pets — will be open Nov. 8:
- Eugene site: Wheeler Pavilion at Lane Events Center, 796 W. 13th Ave.; open at 7 p.m.
- Springfield site: Springfield Memorial Building, 765 A St.; open at 6:30 p.m.
- Youth site (for minors 18 and younger): First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St., Eugene; open at 6 p.m.
Egan program managers monitor multiple weather-prediction systems and activate warming sites in Eugene and Springfield whenever average overnight temperature forecasts dip below 30 degrees F. During an activation, teams of trained volunteers open each warming center in the evening and operate it through morning. They provide guests with sleeping pads and blankets, warm drinks and meals, heartwarming hospitality, basic first aid and more — all inside heated host sites offering protection from the dangerous conditions outside.
Egan Warming Centers background
The Egan Warming Centers program is named for Major Thomas Egan, an unhoused Veteran who froze to death while sleeping outside in Eugene during a 2008 cold spell.
“It’s a tragic story,” said Tim Black, SVdP’s winter strategies and emergency response coordinator. “He didn’t have a place where he could go that night where he would have been welcome, and it could have saved his life if he did.”
The warming centers receive funding from Lane County and support from a broad coalition of community members, service providers, nonprofits, faith and activist communities, and local government. Together, these partners work to ensure that the sad end of Egan’s life story is never repeated,
New-volunteer orientation Nov. 15
Orientation and training are required to join the family of Egan Warming Centers volunteers. To add to a qualified volunteer pool to call upon in the colder months ahead, Egan will host a virtual new-volunteer orientation (via Zoom) from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
Anyone interested should RSVP by email to email@example.com and request a link to the orientation. Organizers will add more trainings through the winter season.
Monetary, material donations needed
Egan Warming Centers also has an ongoing need for donations from the community to sustain this lifesaving service through every cold season.
Tax-deductible monetary contributions can be made via Egan’s secure online donation form. Check donations should note EWC on the memo line and be made payable to St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, Inc., P.O. Box 24608, Eugene, OR 97402.
The warming centers also continually need certain material donations — namely warm, weatherized gloves, coats and shoes — that can better equip shelter guests to survive in harsh winter weather. Donations can be dropped off, clearly marked for Egan, at St. Vinnie’s Seneca donation site, 705 S. Seneca Road in Eugene.
Starting Nov. 15, customers at any St. Vinnie’s location in the Lane County area will also be able to donate materials intended for Egan by placing them in an in-store donation barrel.
Food/drink donations in support of Egan Warming Centers should go through FOOD for Lane County. Most-needed items include coffee and tea, canned soups, bread, condiments, pastries, juice, milk, bottled water, cookies, crackers and chips, fruit, sugar, creamer, lettuce and cheese.