One of the most valuable outreach programs in our community is Room in the Inn, a collaborative effort among numerous churches that provides shelter and meals during the cold months for local homeless residents.

Room in the Inn, which was established in 2014 by the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Southern Kentucky, this week begins its eighth season, which will continue through March 15.

As happened with so many other organizations and endeavors, Room in the Inn’s steady growth was stymied somewhat by the coronavirus pandemic. Lingering COVID-19 concerns are expected to affect this season’s offerings as well, according to board of directors Chairman Doug Depp.

“Some churches didn’t participate last year, and some are opting out this year, too,” Depp told the Daily News’ Don Sergent in a recent report. “A lot of the people who volunteer are older, so they are electing to sit out this year and wait for things to die down.”

Still, Room in the Inn is doing everything it can to keep the program safe and robust this winter. Depp said the group will follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing at the headquarters building at 1033 U.S. 31-W By-Pass, where the homeless congregate each evening before being transported to the church that is providing an evening meal and a place to sleep. Room in the Inn will also offer optional – but strongly encouraged – COVID-19 testing on Mondays, Depp said.

It is clearly important for Room in the Inn to remain active in our community. The needs it addresses are plentiful: in the 2019-20 season, for instance, the program provided more than 2,300 bed nights during a time of year when overnight conditions are particularly punishing – for some of the most vulnerable in our area, extended exposure to the harshest stretches of winter can be fatal.

That’s why we’re pleased to welcome Room in the Inn back for the winter, and we hope it is able to help as many people as possible during the coming months.

We also encourage anyone who might be interested in volunteering or donating to visit the room website or visit the Room in the Inn Bowling Green Facebook page.

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