Keeping cool in heat, Norristown center opens doors with help for vulnerable

Montgomery County officials issued a Code Red weather emergency due to an oppressive air mass with a heat index reaching over 100 degrees and residents are looking to stay cool.

Playing in a Norristown public park, one family was happy to find a way to cool off and stay active. "Pretty hot. They say it’s about 90 or something, but it feels like 102."

But, as the Montgomery County Department of Health issued the Code Red, plenty of residents worried about having a cool place to go to.

The city issued a statement, listing multiple resources for people to find a cool location, like the Norristown Hospitality Center.

The Center is meant to help vulnerable residents year-round, but they opened Saturday, and many were lined up outside, happy to find relief inside.

"This is the second Code Red for Montgomery County this season," Development Coordinator for Montgomery County, Matthew Kirsch, stated. "When the county announced again this time, we were ready and we said we’d open up and it’s gonna be hot, so we are really just trying to make sure that people stay safe and alive."

Over 100 people head to center regularly and Saturday, they were expecting more.

"The air conditioning is on, it’s 68 in here. Hopefully it keeps up with the demand. We have snacks, we have bananas and oranges," Kirsch added.

The center and its volunteers are prepared to meet the needs of the community by creating a judgement-free zone.

"We know many or our guests by name, so when they come in each day, we know who they are," Kirsch continued. "We know how they are doing, we ask about their lives. So, there is a great sense of community among our staff, but also among our guests who come here."

They also feature social services to help people with addiction and mental health issues. "We have been helping people who are experiencing poverty and homelessness in the greater Norristown area, in Montgomery County and so we are generally open Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM   for anybody who wants to come in."

More information about the center can be found on their website.