Rochester Community Warming Center

Rochester Community Warming Center logo

The Rochester Community Warming Center (RCWC) provides emergency shelter for Rochester area homeless adults, 18 and older, during the winter months. Located at 200 4th Street, SE in downtown Rochester, the RCWC opened on December 11th, 2019 and will remain open through March 31, 2020. It will have the capacity to accommodate up to 30 guests per night.

The center opens at 9:00 PM and closes at 7:00 AM and is open seven days a week, including holidays.

Each individual served at the RCWC has a safe and warm place to sleep, access to a shower, laundry facilities, healthy snacks and beverages, fellowship, and referrals for additional help and assistance.

Rochester Community Warming Center Volunteers

Volunteers cover the entirety of all shifts. There are two shifts each night, with two volunteers arriving for the first shift at 8:30 PM and serving until 2:00 AM and the second shift volunteers serving from 2:00 AM until 7:30 AM.

In order to assure the health and safety of our guests and volunteers, paid night shift staff will be present during all hours of operation.

A full-time Warming Center Coordinator is responsible for all aspects of the RCWC including:

  • recruiting, screening, and training volunteers and night shift employees 
  • seeing that operational needs are met regarding supplies and services
  • receiving, storing, and disbursing in-kind goods, and 
  • developing and implementing a community outreach plan that covers communication, marketing, volunteer acknowledgement, fundraising, presentations, etc.  

At its heart, the RCWC is an outreach effort by the Rochester community.  Its success or failure depends on the commitment of the Rochester community to staff and operate the RCWC.  To organize this response, the RCWC employs a Community Partner Model to recruit, retain, and train its shift volunteers.

If you would like to volunteer your gift of time and talent, please contact Michael Gwanjaye (Warming Center Coordinator) 507-287-2047 EXT. 33

Needs List – Outreach Ideas

  • Gift Cards to local stores for food items and supplies
  • Duffle bags or large backpacks
  • Thick, warm gloves and socks
  • Individual sized hand sanitizer
  • Hand lotion

For questions about future needs, contact the RCWC Coordinator, Michael Gwanjaye, at 507-287-2047 EXT.

Those at the RCWC are forever grateful for your compassionate support!!

Warming Center Community Partners

Community Partners (CPs) recruit and manage its own volunteer teams that operate the RCWC.   CPs are likely to be churches, schools, businesses, labor unions, civic clubs, or university student organizations.  The RCWC ideally will recruit 14 or 15 CPs in order to operate the RCWC each night of the warming center season. Fourteen or fifteen CPs is seen as the optimum number so that each CP is only counted on to operate the RCWC twice a month.

CPs are responsible for the following functions:

  1. Designate a Community Partner Liaison (CPL) that will be the contact person to manage the relationship with the RCWC.  The CPL will coordinate and manage functions 2 through 5.
  2. Recruit volunteer teams in sufficient numbers to fully staff the RCWC, in accord with its rules, on the CP’s assigned nights.
  3. See that its volunteer teams undergo the training and background checks specified by the RCWC.
  4. Sign up its team’s shifts, at least two nights each month.  Communicate shift assignments to team members.
  5. Respond to staffing shortages if any of the CP’s volunteers fail to show up for their assigned shifts.

In addition to the CP network volunteers, many unaffiliated, individual volunteers also staff shifts.

Program Intended Outcomes

Simply stated, the RCWC provides shelter to homeless adults in Rochester during winter. The outcomes that the RCWC achieves, described below, are very clear and straightforward.  They are tracked by the RCWC Coordinator.

  • Guests secure restful sleep in a place that is safe and warm
  • Guests upgrade their personal hygiene, i.e., shower, clean clothes, brush teeth, floss, etc.
  • Guests receive nourishment in terms of healthy snacks and beverages
  • Guests are treated with respect and dignity by shelter workers
  • Guests are referred to local human service providers to access services

The RCWC provides immediate help who would otherwise risk death, injury, or illness because they lacked shelter in the dead of winter in Minnesota.  The RCWC serves its guests in a non-judgmental manner that affirms their human dignity.

Many Hearts – Many Hands

The RCWC initiative has initially been uplifted by:

But it is YOUR hearts and hands and compassionate generosity that will continue to provide help and create hope for those that are homeless in Rochester.

Mayo Clinic has agreed to match donations to the Rochester Community Warming Center dollar for dollar up to a total of $25,000. Thank you, Mayo Clinic.

Heartfelt thanks for your life-changing support!

Rochester Cares – Community Compassion in Action

Rochester Community Warming Center logo




Rochester Couple Embrace “Rochester Cares” Campaign

I recently chatted with a friend over a warm cup of tea. The conversation was similar to most chats taking place in Minnesota on blustery January days—snow predictions, icy sidewalks, and wind chills. I think I even heard “Baby, it’s cold outside” echoing in the air!

I paused for a moment and thought about what it might feel like to deal with the brutality of winter in Rochester, Minnesota if I was faced with homelessness in addition to those wind chills…. read more

While it is impossible to publicly thank all who have made a difference, all will receive personal notes of gratitude.

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Heartfelt Thanks for Your Compassionate Generosity!