Shelter from the cold

House of Compassion open as a warming center

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ The House of Compassion, located at 211 W. Church St., will be open today and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. as a safe place to get in out of the cold. Provisions such as coats, hats, gloves, blankets and bread are available. Executive Director Karen Frohwein, right, spent most of Wednesday receiving, organizing and handing out these donations.

With wind chills below zero throughout the week, the House of Compassion, located at 211 W. Church St., has opened its doors — during daytime hours — to act as a warming shelter for the city’s homeless population.

The HoC, whose office had been scheduled to be closed this week for the holidays, opened its doors Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m.

“It’s a need we can’t ignore,” said Executive Director Karen Frohwein.

Frohwein took to social media, and phoned the MPD and local social welfare agencies, informing them of this opportunity. In addition to providing a safe space to stay warm, refreshments are being served, and provisions given out, including, but not limited to: coats, socks, long underwear, blankets, hats and gloves. Edibles such as loafs of bread and Ensure nutrition drinks are also available in limited supply. The use of the facility’s showers is available, but hairdryers are needed.

“It’s amazing how many people have responded,” she said. “Schools have also called offering items. Anson Elementary School dropped off almost 900 items for our Supply Closet.”

Items especially in high demand but in short supply include: over the counter cough and cold medicines, baby Tylenol, warm gloves, hats and food.

The HoC will remain open until 6:15 p.m. today and Friday. Donations should be dropped off before 4 p.m. daily. Frohwein said the HoC could remain open into the evening hours and over the weekend if the public steps forward to volunteer as monitors.

“We will keep our doors open during the day and in the evening as long as we can have help,” she said.

The overnight shelter, however, remains closed. Frohwein said the HoC board is still working to bring back this community service.

“On Jan. 31, we will conduct our annual Point-in-Time count to count the number of homeless people in Marshall County,” Frohwein said. “Having a count helps us secure funding, and prove our case that an overnight shelter is needed. Even if we might not see them in the community, we have homeless people in Marshalltown.”

Frohwein said the HoC serves a variety of clientele that cannot be broadly characterized.

“We see all circumstances. There are stereotypes that say homeless people are lazy, don’t want to work, or drink and do drugs. Most people don’t stay in poverty forever, and many people are housing insecure, living paycheck to paycheck,” Frohwein said.

She noted how this time of year can be especially challenging for those who are impoverished.

“Heating expenses, losing a job, being injured can all lead to homelessness,” she said. “We’ve seen it happen.”

The HoC will still serve its daily (except for Saturdays) dinner, which is served from 5-6:15 p.m. A meal will be served on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The Supply Closet will resume normal business hours starting on Jan. 2, open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1-4:15 p.m. The HoC is also working to help place people in other shelters, as requested.

The HoC may be reached at: 641-752-5999.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or