It was just 10 days ago that a record-breaking cold snap hit the Northern Seacoast, but area nonprofits and city leaders knew days before that the homeless would be at incredible risk if a warming shelter couldn't be found by the time the mercury plunged.
But just as the bone-chilling cold descended on the city, a flood of empathy, goodwill and determination emerged among a cadre of leaders from the public, private and nonprofit communities bent on providing those less fortunate with a place to escape the potentially deadly cold.
It began with folks from SOS Recovery, Tri-City Co-op and Rochester Fire Chief Mark Klose and then others like city leaders Mayor Caroline McCarley and City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick.
Pretty soon Straight Street Outreach and a plethora of city restaurants and stores like Granite Steak and Grill, Revolution Taproom and Grill, Hannaford's and Aroma Joe's were all over it, delivering donated food and supplies to the Community Center on Wakefield Street.
Just days ago the warming shelter moved to the National Guard Armory on Brock Street, where it remains open 24/7 and will remain open until officials believe the imminent threat of freezing temps no long pose a health hazard for the homeless.
Many homeless are infused with a stubborn pride like Dennis Winship whom we talked to down at the Community Center last week.
Winship said if the warming center hadn't opened he would've "toughed it out" inside a makeshift canvass shelter where one morning he awoke to find his boots and water bottle frozen solid.
Much has been done, but the job is not over.
Those who wish to sign up to volunteer at the shelter can do so by contacting the warming shelter by phone, at 978-378-5094.
Rochester put together the warming center that may have saved lives on a wing and a prayer, but prayers work, and in this case, the idea took flight beautifully.