This is just the beginning.

With temperatures dropping into the 30s at night and the snow on the ground making its first appearance downtown this week, winter clearly has started.

The daytime highs are forecast to be in the 40s next week as heavy rain continues to pummel Ketchikan, but they are expected to give way to temperatures in the 30s late in the week.

That is to say that the coldest season is ahead of us — all of us.

Fortunately, the First City can ensure that everyone has a place to get out of the cold, rain, wind and snow. A warm and dry place.

First City Homeless Services provides two such places in its Day Shelter and its Overnight Warming Center.

The day shelter served 240 people during calendar 2020. The warming center, which operated from December of 2020 to May of 2021, served 77 people.

Some of the people visit the day shelter in search of food, not seeking shelter. There they can eat breakfast and acquire snacks. On Saturdays, the shelter provides bag lunches; it is the only local place that provides food to those in search of a complimentary meal that day.

During the winter, it also offers a free cooked meal to those who overnight at the center.

Food and shelter are the primary responses of the two programs. But, the people at First City Homeless Services also assist the people who visit their facilities with scheduling appointments and general assistance in maintaining their well-being.

The day shelter is open six to eight hours a day, while the warming center is accessible from 8 at night to 6 in the morning.

First City Homeless Services, along with both public and private support, has done a marvelous job in addressing the housing and food challenges for the community’s most vulnerable.

It wasn’t that long ago that the homeless could be seen biding time on downtown benches or in crawl spaces as evening descended. Definitely cold, and often rain-drenched, they suffered.

This vision led to another, with a mission to “offer the homeless access to a safe, non-judgmental shelter and referrals to local resources.”

That’s being done, and, as winter arrives, Ketchikan isn’t leaving anyone out in the cold.