Even with spring about two weeks away, Saratoga Code Blue is going strong.
The cold weather drop-in shelter at the Salvation Army building on Woodlawn Avenue was tentatively expected to close for the season March 15. But with winter showing little sign of abating, organizers are bracing to stay open for most of the month.
“For now, it looks like it’s going to be the month of March,” Mayor Joanne Yepsen said Wednesday.
Attendance figures so far have shattered the numbers recorded last year. Through this week, the shelter stayed open for 67 days this winter, including a recent stretch of 46 consecutive days.
Last year, Code Blue was open a total of 58 nights and had 928 overnight stays, averaging 16 people per day. This year, the shelter has seen 2,240 overnight stays, an average of about 37 people per day.
“It’s been a hard winter, and our statistics bear that out,” Yepsen said.
Code Blue is activated whenever temperatures dip below 20 degrees or more than a foot of snow is in the forecast. Organizers initially set the temperature threshold at 10 degrees when the program was founded in December 2013, but raised it as the winter wore on.
And with the need seen this year, organizers are already looking for money to fund future operations. In coming weeks, a pair of events will go toward ensuring the program has enough resources.
Mary Lou Quinlan will put on a performance of her internationally acclaimed one-woman show, “The God Box: A Daughter’s Story,” at 7 p.m. Saturday at the National Museum of Dance. All proceeds from the performance will go to Code Blue.
Cheryl Ann Murphy-Parent, Code Blue’s director, said donations and volunteers for the program were steady throughout the winter. She said the goal now is to prepare for the off-season, so the momentum gained this year isn’t lost.
“Every little bit helps,” she said of the donations.
Early next month, Code Blue is organizing an inaugural 8K race through the city to raise operational funds. The April 4 event is scheduled to start on High Rock Avenue and wend through the city’s East Side and Spring Run Trail before ending near Lake Avenue. The event will also feature an Easter egg hunt, a children’s fun run, face painting and a silent auction.
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