ROWLAND HEIGHTS – Bill Stone is hoping this is his last winter at the homeless shelter. He says he’s got a few leads that could land him a job. Work can’t come soon enough for Stone, 54. The shelter that has fed him and kept him warm since Dec.15 will close Wednesday, ending its seasonal operation just as temperatures are starting to dip into the 30-degree range at night. “You’ve got to have confidence,” Stone said. “And shelters like this bring out the best in people.” The Winter Shelter, the only one in this area, is run by volunteers from the East San Gabriel Valley Coalition for the Homeless. The shelter spends two weeks at a time in an East Valley church, finishing its run Wednesday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Rowland Heights. This year, the shelter has served about 1,000 men and women. Several families with small children also have sought help from the shelter this season, said Bob McKennon, of the coalition. Families with kids are given motel vouchers and a dinner since they cannot legally stay at the shelter, McKennon said. Officials will tally the total number of people served this season later in the week. Organizing the shelter is a full-time job for the volunteers. Coalition member Irene Kubo said she spends about 12hours a day helping the homeless. Kubo made her way up and down the rows of empty cots packed into a hall at St. Elizabeth recently, bombarded left and right by questions from volunteers and others looking to her for directions as they prepared to open the shelter doors. The 2005-06 winter season has gone more smoothly than last, Kubo said. This season, shelter workers said the major problem they faced was sick clients. “It’s usually runny noses and blistered heels,” said Al Matthews, a longtime coalition member. “We’ve had some serious illnesses this year, which we don’t know how to handle.” The shelter faces a new hurdle for next winter, when one of the churches that houses the program will drop out of the rotation to make renovations. The coalition is scrambling to find a replacement for St. Dorothy’s Catholic Church in Glendora, which usually is home to the shelter the last two weeks of January. “It’s all dependent on churches making themselves available to us,” McKennon said. “Otherwise, we can’t do it.” The coalition, under the blanket organization of the East San Gabriel Homeless Consortium, has for years sought a place to set up a year-round homeless shelter. The No. 1 obstacle the group has faced is finding a site. “Where do we put it? Who’s going to let us do it?” McKennon said. “Who’s going to say welcome to our community, what can we do to help?” There are about 2,700 homeless people , including about 600 homeless children, according to a study in 2003. Even the coalition members say the shelter is a Band-Aid on the homeless problem. An ideal scenario, they say, would be a year-round shelter where the homeless get not only a meal and a bed, but counseling, medical attention and job training. Stone has used the shelter for at least the last four winters. Every year he has said he will make progress, but every year finds him back at the churches. But this year Stone’s energy level is high, his smile wide, and he seems to believe this time his days on the streets really are behind him. “I’m not coming back next year,” Stone vowed. “You better not,” Kubo said with a laugh as she passed by. Last year, George Hanson, 50, spent much of his time in the shelter sporting a huge scab down one side of his face. The injury came when he tripped and fell face-first on a La Puente sidewalk. He said God punished him for drinking that day. Now Hanson’s face is clear and freshly washed. He ministers to the other homeless, talking to them about God and Jesus and the Bible, and dreams of opening a church and a shelter for them. Hanson is making progress, shelter workers said. But, when the shelter closes he will be back on the streets. “I remember before the shelter opened it got down into the mid-30s,” Hanson said. He said it was so cold he started praying. He’s not looking forward to another night like that, but it’s just days until the shelter closes its doors. “I’ll let the Lord take care of me,” Hanson said. in the East Valley [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2717 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!