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Number of New Rochelle Shelter Clients Grows

The shelter opened Sunday at Albert Leonard Middle School and will be open until the last client can return home.

CORRECTION: This article has been modified from its original version to correctly attribute comments by Shelter Manager Janice Lehman.

A couple of Lily Darden's grandchildren alternatedly played basketball and watched videos Thursday at the Red Cross shelter set up at Albert Leonard Middle School.

Outside a large van was delivering voting machines that would be used in Tuesday's general election.

Darden and four of her grandchildren came to the shelter Sunday, the day it opened.

"I was ahead of the game," she said. "We still had lights but I suspected the lights would go out, and they did."

The New Rochelle resident, who lives in Rochelle Heights, said she thinks the power will be back on soon, but was extremely glad she packed her charges up and headed to Albert Leonard, located at 25 Gerada Ln.

"They've treated us very well," Darden said. "And the food has been excellent."

Shelter Manager Janice Lehman, from Greenville, SC, said Thursday the shelter housed 38 clients and was open for people to come in to charge their cellphones, take showers or have a hot meal or a snack. That number is up from the original count of 11 from Monday.

There will likely be more people coming to the shelter, Lehman said, because patients discharged from the hospital, who have medical issues such as having to use an oxygen machine and don't have to power at their homes, will be brought to Albert Leonard.

"We just got the OK that we could accommodate medically ill patients," she said, adding the Red Cross has brought in two nurses to help take care of them.

The discharged patients will be in a separate area from the regular clients so they can be properly cared for, Lehman said.

There are 11 staff volunteers at the shelter, including one emergency medical technician and the two nurses, who will be working in the New Rochelle community until the last client is able to return home.

In addition to the food, cots and showers, there are art activities, games and videos for the children staying there. So far 10 children have been housed there.

Lehman said, with the school slated to reopen Monday, there will be no access to the other parts of the school for shelter clients.

"There's only one way in and one way out," she said, referring to the wing of the school where the shelter is.

School officials have said they will move classes and activities normally held in the part of the school set aside for the shelter to other parts of the building.

Lehman said there would be no intermingling of shelter clients and school children or personnel.

She said, with the temperatures predicted to drop in the next few days, she hoped more seniors would take advantage of the facilities at Albert Leonard.

"Elderly residents are more susceptable to cold temperatures," Lehman said. "We ask them to please do not stay at home."

If anyone plans on coming to stay at the shelter, she said they should bring a towel and a pillow from home. Blankets will be provided.

Darden echoed Lehman's comments about the elderly coming to Albert Leonard.

"I would say, 'Please give it a chance,' " she said. "It would be something all together different from what you are thinking."

Darden said she was grateful for the work the volunteers do.

"I thank God for these people," she said.

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