Local shelter in the Mat-Su Valley warms homeless

Mat-Su warming center opens off Palmer-Wasilla Hwy
A Black Sheep Ministry
A Black Sheep Ministry(KTUU-TV)
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 7:15 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As the sun sets early in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, so do the temperatures. The timely opening of A Black Sheep Ministry’s new warming center is a welcome sight for those experiencing homelessness in the Valley.

When you walk in to A Black Sheep Ministry’s building, you’ll see that books have been placed on the top shelves to not encumber the rows of chairs that now sit in front of them. David Doyle and his girlfriend, Norma Tejano, converted the Christian bookstore into a much needed sanctuary from the harsh temperatures the state has been experiencing.

Mat-Su warming center
Mat-Su warming center(KTUU-TV)

Doyle started helping the homeless a few years back while working as a driver for Uber and Lyft. After seeing homeless people walking on the Glenn Hwy during extremely cold nights, he started picking them up, buying them a warm meal, and even letting them stay in his home. That’s when he decided to start A Black Sheep Ministry in May of 2021. When the Mat-Su Coalition on Housing and Homelessness reached out asking his ministry to host the warming center this year, Doyle said it was a blessing. He had six people with two dogs use the warming center Tuesday night.

“We started out with two, then three and now six,” said Doyle. “The Valley is very big and it’s hard to see all the homeless out here. Until you actually get the word out that there’s a warming center, you don’t really know really how much you’re dealing with.”

The warming center is open nightly between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., with doors closing for intake at midnight.

Operating the center is largely dependent on donations, which Doyle says he’s in need of. Donations needed include sleeping bags, blankets, winter clothing and more chairs as he looks to expand his space by renting out a room adjacent to the bookstore in the same building. Volunteers are also needed.

“We need volunteers to help supervise the homeless. It’s not hard work you just have to make sure they’re keeping their areas clean and not fighting,” he said. “But normally they’re just appreciative of the warm place to stay... they just want to rest.”

Doyle says his long term goal is to expand A Black Sheep Ministry to be a fully functioning homeless shelter, but the non-profit is still in it’s infancy so he’s currently looking to the community for support.

“If there’s places out in the community that could help accommodate showers and laundry, I’m more than willing to shuttle them,” he said.

But for now—a chair and a blanket in a warm, modest bookstore is more than enough on these bitter winter nights.

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