Our Hypothermia Program

For more than 20 years The Father McKenna Center has responded to the needs of men without a home for a safe and predictable environment during the cold nights of winter.

Men for Others

While DC has a Hypothermia Hotline, many of our guests do not feel safe in emergency shelter environments, and there is not support for their transition through homelessness, only maintenance of their status quo.

Our Hypothermia Transition Program is application based, and each applicant meets with his Case Manager to ensure commitment to the goals and structure of the Program. Men are approved for participation in the Program based on an assessment of their readiness to move toward the next step on their journey out of homelessness, whether that step is a job, a temporary or permanent housing situation, or stability on the road to sobriety or mental health.

We open on November 1st and operate every night until March 31. The Hypothermia Transition Program offers the men shelter for the night, a shower, a home-cooked evening meal, and time to work on their personal plan or to socialize.

The Program has two exceptional characteristics: it builds a cohort and it reintroduces family interactions.

Each year we provide shelter for a consistent group of 18-20 men. This is not a drop-in program, rather the same men join us each night until they find stable housing or reunite with their community. This opportunity to build a bond of trust in a predictable environment cannot be underestimated. The state of homelessness is characterized by chaos and, too often, by fear. We believe the Hypothermia Transition Program offers a place of not just physical shelter. It also provides a mental and emotional place of safety that allows each man to focus on moving his life forward.

The success of the Hypothermia Transition Program is made possible by the consistent and loving support of the Gonzaga Mothers’ Club (GMC). Each season, the GMC and their families commit to cooking and serving the evening meal for 20 men for over 150 nights! Even more remarkable, this is not simply a drop-off service. The meals are brought to the Center by families, who then stay to serve and eat with the men. The act of breaking bread together, sharing conversation, and engaging as brothers and sisters in Christ breaks down barriers and allows everyone at the tables to see each other as individuals. This removal of the us/them divide is a tremendous gift for both our guests and our volunteers.

The Center is tremendously grateful to the GMC for their ongoing support and for the commitment of Gonzaga families to live out their motto of “Men for Others” with our guests.

Stability, Productivity, Meaning

One staff member’s reflection on the 2019-2020 Hypothermia Transition program:

Our 2019-2020 Hypothermia Transition program was unlike any other. We provided extended housing for our remaining participants once the pandemic shutdown occurred. These participants contributed to the Center’s upkeep, cooked meals for one another, completed their transitions out of homelessness, and learned to sew in order to produce 250+ facemasks for a sister organization. Genuine accomplishments in the face of great adversity!

We maintain detailed statistics on the outcomes of the program, and consistently close the program with over 75% of participants meeting their goals, from sobriety or housing, to employment or family reunification.


Homeless in the US

Every year 3.5 million people experience homelessness across the U.S.  In Washington D.C. there are over 8,000 people have no home.

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