New Directions Heating and Cooling Center in Jacksonville remains closed awaiting a decision from Grace United Methodist’s Church board. The center was founded in 2009 to help meet the needs of the area’s many homeless residents. It was closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to concerns of spreading the virus.
Current director Sarah Robinson says that they hope the center is able to reopen with another month once the state moves into Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan: “We are of course housed at Grace United Methodist Church and we are awaiting clearance from their board. I was told initially it would probably be Phase 5 before we could reopen.”
Robinson says current public cooling centers are very limited in capacity due to Phase 4 restrictions: “As far as currently as far as a warming and cooling center, a lot of traditional locations like the Jacksonville Public Library and so forth, would be very limited. The best thing I’ve got at this point for people is directing them to the Prairieland United Way help line.”
Robinson says that New Directions will reopen as soon as they can: “We are looking at this as a temporary closure. We are definitely working towards being able to reopen. We appreciate Grace United Methodist Church donating the space and all of our expenses are covered through Grace as far as the building and utilities and those types of things. They have done a tremendous job for us in the past and we are looking forward to opening and being housed there at some point in the near future.”
The Prairieland United Way Helpline number is 479-1818 for those who need assistance.