Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission helps community weather heatwave

By Vanta Coda III, RealWV

As an abnormally early mid-June heat wave scorches West Virginia this week, Pastor Tim Guireno and the non-profit Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission team prepare to serve their community. These efforts allow for an influx of homeless and low-income foot traffic to receive relief from the immense heat that is outside.

“We are prepared for this heat wave even if it may be one of the earliest ones that we have seen in a couple of years,” said Guireno. “Our doors are open 24/7 for anyone in need to get out of the heat in the day or as it slowly goes down during the night.”

Booming over the intercom, Pastor Tim Guireno raises a donation check from a local pizzeria, Giovanni’s New York Pizza. Photo by Vanta Coda III, RealWV.

Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission is a designated cooling center on 608 W King St, within walking distance from downtown Martinsburg. With its relative proximity to both downtown and lower-income neighborhoods, the community can conveniently access the lifeline of surfaces that the mission provides.

During the build-up of heat leading up to Friday and Saturday, local renters have come into the shelter, due to the rolling power outages they have been facing at home. One renter, Roxanne Grim, experienced such lengths of power outages that all the food in her fridge spoiled and her freezer de-thawed.

Attendants assist community members coming into the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission. Photo by Vanta Coda III, RealWV.

“My power went out last night and didn’t come on until late this morning,” said Grim. “By then I couldn’t use anything, it all went bad.”

Due to the soup kitchen style food line that the mission provides, Roxanne Grim was able to get a hot and ready meal within the comfort of the air-conditioned cafeteria.

Waiting for donations, Zach Campbell (right) and Larry Hurlay (left), sit in the recycling warehouse. Photo by Vanta Coda III, RealWV.

Aside from status as a designated shelter and cooling/heating station in the Martinsburg and the greater Eastern Panhandle community, the mission also has many services including a recycling center, food kitchen, furniture donation center, and other programs for people who are struggling with various issues across the community.

One of the programs that the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission offers is the ability for area residents to have steady employment and the chance to give back to their community. An example of such workers is Zach Campbell, who works in the recycling warehouse wing of the mission’s property.

People eat lunch in the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission cafeteria. Photo by Vanta Coda, RealWV.

“We bail hundreds of pounds of recycling material a day, while also taking donations up to the thrift shop, so there is constantly something that needs to be done which is nice.” said Campbell.“ As for supplies, we get everything we need out here whether it is hot or cold, they supply us with extra water and Gatorade, especially during these times.”

Whether an early heatwave in the summer months or a prolonged cold spell in the winter, Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission proves regardless of circumstance, they will be ready to provide services for their community.


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