Blue Ash YMCA opens doors as warming center

Blue Ash YMCA opens doors as warming center

BLUE ASH, OH (FOX19) - Duke Energy is still working to restore power throughout the Tri-State. In the meantime, the YMCA is leaving its doors open Thursday night to help those who have not had their electricity restored yet.

"We have some chocolate chip granola bars," said John Heather, who is the Group Vice President or Operations at the Blue Ash YMCA.

Heater and his staff stayed busy through the day keeping up with the demand of visitors seeking shelter from the blustery winter weather.

"We had to go to the store three times to go get more water and snacks for the kids. We went and got some coloring books for the kids because we ran out. I think we may have made our last run for the night," said Heater.

The YMCA transformed into an emergency shelter since 9 a.m. Thursday.

“Throughout the day over about 150 people have come through who are members and non-members who are saying we I don’t have a place to go. I’ve had people like the airport charging phones,” said Heater.

He says though they don’t typically turn their facilities into a shelter, they know they couldn’t turn their back on those in need.

"When we heard about all the families without power. It's cold, school is canceled. Where does everybody go, so yes our job is to show up and respond," said Heater.

Heater says while some residents were dealing with the frustration of no power or food they were able take their mind off of their problems temporarily as their children played and swam and found other ways to enjoy the day.

“Just bringing people together from our seniors that need a safe place that’s warm, to our little kids with grandmas. It’s been a day of just showing up and loving on people,” said Heater.

They plan to keep showing the love until their services are no longer needed.

“We want everyone to know that if you don’t have power and you want a safe place and a warm place where you can get a shower in the morning. We even bought towels so we we’re ready to go,” said Heater.

On Thursday there are about six families planning to stay at the YMCA overnight. They did not want to participate in an interview.

The YMCA is also offering rides for anyone needing transportation to their center. Those needed a ride can call the Blue Ash YMCA at 513-791-5000 or the Blue Ash Police Department at 513-745-8555.

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