BOISE, Idaho — Behind Interfaith Sanctuary's building in Boise, a combination of AstroTurf, misters and canopies are making all the difference for those without a home.
Interfaith Sanctuary Executive Director, Jodi Peterson-Stigers, said the shelter created Project Cool Down on Monday, June 27, after seeing the triple-digit temperatures take a toll on the homeless community.
"We just want to make sure that people have choices and that they're safe," Peterson-Stigers said.
Last year, Interfaith leased an extra building for cooling, thanks to federal COVID-19 funding. That lease is now up and space is limited.
Interfaith Sanctuary serves about 150 homeless people each night, but during the day, those people have nowhere to go, since the building is reserved for those in recovery. Peterson-Stigers said Project Cool Down is the solution.
"We saw a greater need and kind of started to panic and wanted to make sure that we could be a safe space to provide cooling down," Peterson-Stigers said.
The shelter's staff made a donor page for Project Cool Down just two days ago. The goal was to raise $2,500 for supplies, but Peterson-Stigers said the Treasure Valley community quickly exceeded expectations.
"Within five hours, it was at $6,000 of donations," Peterson-Stigers said. "So, we were able to go shopping immediately."
With the monetary support, several cooling areas are already in place, but the Interfaith crew is not stopping there. Plans to add more canopies and AstroTurf are in the works.
Billy Manzanarez and Facility Director, Ernest Garcia both say Project Cool Down is a necessary resource.
"Cool Down is a safe place, where they can come in and just stand in the mist and come over and sit anywhere they want," Manzanarez said.
"The better we can make people. the happier their life is, the easier it is for them," Garcia added.
As Project Cool Down enters its first weekend, Peterson-Stigers said it would not have been possible without all of the community support.
"We are asked to respond really quickly, as things change within this homeless community, as the numbers grow," Peterson-Stigers said. "You do have to be able to turn on a time. And because of our community, we can."
Interfaith Sanctuary stopped taking monetary donations for Project Cool Down, but they still need some hot-weather items. They are accepting donations such as sunscreen, popsicles, sun hats and flip flops.
If you would like to donate, those items can be dropped off at the Interfaith Sanctuary. The shelter is located at 1620 West River Street in Boise.
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