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Open Doors shelter continues operating during COVID-19 pandemic

Open Doors has temporarily moved its shelter location to Godwin Hall at JMU.
Open Doors has temporarily moved its shelter location to Godwin Hall at JMU.(WHSV)
Published: May. 25, 2020 at 8:49 PM EDT
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A local homeless shelter is extending its operating hours as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Open Doors Shelter, which is operating out of Godwin Hall at James Madison University, usually is closed by this time of year. However, with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's stay-at-home order in places through June 10, the shelter will continue to remain open during this time.

The shelter usually operates from November through April.

"Cold temperatures weren't the most important variable for us to consider, but it was each individual's safety when it came to exposure to COVID-19, staff's exposure to COVID-19, and volunteers," said Graham Witt, the president of Open Doors.

Witt said through government funding and private donations, the organization was able to extend its season.

"The Community Foundation really stepped up with three levels of funding for us and actually matched what we got from the Harrisonburg Housing Authority, which came through, I guess, the CARES Act," Witt said.

Witt told WHSV the shelter entered into a contract with James Madison University to temporarily transform Godwin Hall into an emergency shelter until June 10. Through the community's support, those staying at the facility received meals every night at no cost.

"We're talking about going on two-plus months of dinners that have either been donated or provided by community members, community businesses, and restaurants," said Witt.

Witt said while the community has stepped up to keep guests and staff safe through the pandemic, the Open Doors season will end once Northam's stay-at-home order is lifted.

"June 11. That morning will be the day that Godwin Hall and Open Doors end this effort, so at this point, we do not have a facility to follow that date," Witt said.

For more information about Open Doors,

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