Hibben United Methodist Church in fifth year of serving as warming shelter


Warming shelters are now open because of the expected freezing temperatures.

Hibben United Methodist Church in Mount Pleasant is one of the places that has opened its doors to people who might need a place to stay away from the cold.

The church has served as an emergency cold shelter for five years.

When it first started there were four to ten people who would come and now at times they’ve had more than 70 guests.

“Some will come up and hug you and say,’We thank you. I might have froze to death,'” said Al Bradshaw-Whittemore, the overnight captain of the shelter.

That’s why Hibben United Methodist Church in Mount Pleasant started a ministry to bring people in from the freezing temperatures.

“It’s a ministry we saw a need for,” Bradshaw Whittemore said.

It’s a ministry that also continues to grow.

“A lot of these people work and they’re paid, talk about affordable housing. They cannot afford a place to stay,” Whittemore said.

Guests are in for a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, a shower, breakfast and a bus ride to Hibben from downtown Charleston and back.

“To me it’s what Christ has called me to do,” said Walter Strawther, the associate pastor of the church.

Guests are not accepted after 11 p.m. unless brought by the Mount Pleasant Police Department, other agencies, or due to special circumstances and advance arrangements have been made.

Guests must leave by 7 a.m. the next morning.

“I care about these people and you get to learn about their stories,” Whittemore said.”You can stub your toe and next thing you know you also could be without a place to stay.”

Hibben is the only warming shelter in Mount Pleasant, but there are several other churches who are trained to help out with the efforts at the center.

The church is asking for more volunteers and would like to see another shelter open so they can continue to meet the needs of the community.

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