WARM Beginnings

Learn more about what WARM does and how it came to be.

About WARM Photo

About WARM

Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry (WARM) provides emergency and temporary housing to individuals and families who lack the financial resources to maintain stable housing. WARM currently provides winter shelter to homeless adults at sites in Waynesboro and Augusta County, Virginia and temporary housing and supportive services to homeless mothers and their children in Waynesboro.

WARM is comprised of a group of community leaders, pastors, congregations, volunteers, referral agencies, and professionals who are committed to providing quality homeless services to our community’s neediest citizens. The leaders, staff, and volunteers of WARM believe that it is our community responsibility, but more importantly our brotherly duty, to feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, and in by doing so show God’s great love for them.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

– Excerpt of Matthew 25:35-40

Our History

Community awareness of the ongoing crisis of homelessness in Waynesboro, Virginia was aroused by a murder in the winter of 2010 in “Tent City” on the South River behind Shiloh Baptist Church. As result, Waynesboro’s city decided to close and clean the beach area of “Tent City” to prevent further violence and ease the community’s concerns of safety. The previous homeless inhabitants of “Tent City” migrated elsewhere.

That same summer, the custodian of Saint John’s Episcopal Church was physically threatened inside of the church by a mentally ill homeless person. The late night attack of the long time custodian startled the church and the community as a whole. In lieu of the unfortunate event, the church began locking its doors after 65 continued years of leaving the church unlocked to the homeless and as an warm place of hospice for Waynesboro’s neediest citizens.

In the fall of 2010, a group at Saint John’s, assessing the problem of homelessness in Waynesboro, began an initiative to find a viable solution for the community’s struggling homeless population. On January 31, 2012 a Community Forum on Homelessness was held at Saint John’s Episcopal Church with 113 interested citizens in attendance. Shortly thereafter the group collaborated with Pastor Howard Miller of Waynesboro Mennonite Church who had already begun an initiative for the homeless through Waynesboro Area Ministerial Association. Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry grew out of that collaboration.

WARM’s founders determined there to be a four phase solution to address the needs of Waynesboro’s homeless. The 1st phase included coordinating a rotating shelter with area churches to provide refuge to homeless adults during the coldest winter months of each year. As a result, WARM’s Cold Weather Shelter started in the winter of 2012 and has matured into a strong arm of care for the homeless in Waynesboro and Augusta County. The Cold Weather Shelter was created with minimal eligibility requirements to allow WARM to serve homeless persons during the painful cold months without guests having to fear that any past poor decisions may interfere with their ability to have a warm place to sleep.

With doing so, WARM does not permit children to reside at thermal shelter sites since it does not establish the criminal history or previous conduct of shelter guests. Therefore, the need for a site that provides year round safe shelter for homeless women with children was addressed by WARM’s Phase 2 goal. Phase 2 for WARM’s solutions to Waynesboro’s homelessness included the implementation of a transitional housing program for the community’s homeless moms and their children. The need for this program was established through WARM’s founders evaluation of the thermal shelter’s effectiveness and limits in service.

In the winter of 2014, WARM completed it’s Phase 2 goal when it opened the doors of the WARM House for Women & Children, in a beautiful and contemporary 10 bedroom home on Fairfax Avenue in Waynesboro, Virginia. The facility was renamed The Ruth Van Cleve Anderson WARM House for Women and Children (Ruth’s WARM House) in the fall of 2015 in honor of one of the organization’s long standing supporters and local matriarch. Phase 3 and 4 for WARM include temporary housing for homeless families, homeless prevention services, rapid re-housing options and partnering with other community agencies to assist WARM’s guests with transitioning into financial home ownership and a new life.