For the first few nights after opening its doors in May, the 15 beds at Frank MacKay House were empty. But once word got out about the emergency shelter, calls started coming in and it’s been full ever since.
“We turn away more people than we can take,” said Warren Wesson, a full-time volunteer at Frank MacKay House and board member of the Dartmouth Shelter Society.
The shelter, in the Sonlife Community Church on Windmill Road, operates from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. and welcomes guests on a first-come, first-served basis.
Wesson said of the 15 beds, he keeps five “crisis beds” available for guests brought in by emergency service providers like the police.
People are being pushed to the shelter for lots of different reasons and it’s not always because of long-term need, Wesson said.
“I’ve had to change diapers on 70-year old men since I opened this [shelter],” he said. “People that should be kept in the hospital are being released, wandering across the Commons, passed out, being picked up by the police and brought to me. That’s real.”