Freedom Warming Centers

warming center news

Warming Center Volunteer Signups 2018-19

Winter (and hopefully some rain) is on its way, and that means that on cold and wet nights there will be people who need shelter.  So we are asking you – yes, you!  – to volunteer to join a Hospitality Team here at the Unitarian Society.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of being able to do something concrete and tangible to help our community. Cooking a good meal and sharing it with our guests at the Warming Centers is now a part of our culture of caring here at the Unitarian Society. We need about 80 volunteers each year to make this happen! I look forward to having you as part of the team!

You can sign up at here:

We are organizing our teams in a similar way this year, with a team for each day of the week. This year we are offering an orientation and training on Tuesday, November 13 at 6:30 p.m. in Parish Hall.

When you sign up, you will be part of our effort to provide a hot meal for our homeless guests when we are activated as a warming center. Activation notice is sent out 48 hours in advance, if the weather forecast calls for temperatures below 35 or at least a 50% chance of rain.

This 2018-2019 Warming Center Season we are on call for the following weeks:

November 18-24
December 23-29 *We always activate on Christmas Eve Christmas Day, no matter the forecast.
January 13-19
February 17-23
March 3-9

When we are activated, the team in charge of that night is set in motion.  Teams are in charge of the following:

  1. Preparing a simple, hot and filling meal that can feed 60 people. (We’ve got recipes!)
  2. Serving the meal to our guests the night we are activated – we usually start serving around 6:15 p.m.
  3. Cleaning up the kitchen after activation.

We look forward to working with you in support of the Warming Centers this year! If you have any questions, please contact Mike Gorodezky, FWC Hospitality Team Coordinator.

-Rev. Julia Hamilton & Michael Gorodezky

Serving Santa Barbara County

What are Freedom Warming Centers?

Freedom Warming Centers provide overnight accommodations for homeless and chronically homeless individuals. We are a shorter-term shelter operating when temperatures or a combination of weather conditions can be life-threatening for individuals living on the streets, many living with chronic health conditions.


In 2009, moved by the tragic death of a Santa Barbara homeless man known as ‘Freedom,’ a group of homeless advocates, the faith community, and others came together and began working on solutions to reduce or eliminate the chances of anyone dying from winter conditions in Santa Barbara County. To that end they prepared and implemented a plan that resulted in winter warming centers throughout Santa Barbara county. To honor the gentleman whom friends called Freedom, this group of concerned individuals gave the winter shelter program the name Freedom Warming Centers.

In 2010, recognizing the need for a fiscal agent, the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara stepped forward and became the administrative agent for the Freedom Warming Centers.

What We Do

Freedom Warming Centers provide overnight refuge to homeless and chronically homeless individuals who would otherwise seek shelter in doorways, alleys, or other uninhabitable places during nights of inclement weather conditions.

Along with a safe warm place to rest, Freedom Warming Center guests receive a hot meal, personal toiletry items, sack lunch, and if necessary a new jacket or socks.

We activate (open) between November 15 and March 31, when weather conditions can pose a danger to those forced to live out of doors. Hours of operation are 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Guests receive resources and referrals for drug treatment centers, health/wellness clinics, mental health services, housing options, and other homeless-related services.

There are no restrictions or barriers for accessing the Freedom Warming Centers; the only requirement is people must remain respectful of each other and the warming center. Pets are welcome.

Did You Know?    

We are the only warming centers serving Santa Barbara County. We operate five locations: Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, Lompoc, and Santa Maria.

Our Impact

There is a consensus among public health officials throughout the state and the country: warming centers play a key role in any regional homeless service winter plan.

Individuals who access winter warming centers reduce their risk of serious illness, have fewer emergency room visits, and are less likely to be housed in jails. This is a cost savings to both taxpayers and businesses/business owners.

When activated, Freedom Warming Centers can provide approximately 200 individuals, per night, a warm place to sleep out of the winter weather elements. The average age is 48 years old, and 82% of are men.

Our Collaborative Partners

When Santa Barbara County is facing cold and/or rainy winter weather, the following churches and organizations do their part by opening their doors allowing the Freedom Warming Centers to come in, set up, and fully manage and operate the overnight center.

  • Santa Barbara; Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, Trinity Episcopal Church, First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, First Congregational Church
  • Carpinteria; Carpinteria Community Church
  • Lompoc; Peace Lutheran Church
  • Isla Vista; University Methodist Church
  • Santa Maria; Salvation Army

Please contact the Freedom Warming Centers with any questions or comments.

Thank You!

Contact information:

Freedom Warming Centers
1535 Santa Barbara St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Tax ID # 95-1890767
(805) 636-5174

Freedom Warming Centers

Please click here to donate.

Your support will provide shelter for our homeless neighbors. We believe everyone deserves a safe, warm place to rest.

To find a Freedom Warming Centers activation in your community, please call our hotline number or visit us on Facebook.

HOTLINE: (805) 324-2372