Basin Electric donation keeps Bismarck-Mandan Homeless Shelter open 24-hours a day for winter

Jason Cowan, Leland Olds Station plant manager; Jennifer Holen, Basin Electric charitable giving administrator; Jena Gullo, Missouri Slope Areawide United Way executive director; and Troy Tweeten, Basin Electric senior vice president of Operations.

Living in North Dakota, residents are familiar with the feeling of 50-below-zero temperatures, but not in nearly the same way as our neighbors without homes. While many of us walk from our houses to our cars and complain about the cold, people without shelter are walking around in deadly temperatures battling windchill and frostbite. 

Basin Electric recently made a sizeable donation to keep residents safe and warm indoors when they have nowhere else to go.

The $75,000 donation was made to Missouri Slope Areawide United Way on Dec. 1. The donation helped United Way reach their goal which resulted in the reopening of the emergency homeless shelter during the day instead of only at night.

Jena Gullo, Missouri Slope Areawide United Way executive director, says Basin Electric’s donation has saved lives.

“The patrons at the shelter tell me every day how grateful they are for this,” says Gullo. “We have had people say they would literally die if we weren’t open during the day, and one gentleman came in with blisters all over his hands from frostbite.”

The homeless shelter in Bismarck, North Dakota, has an average of 55 residents per day including families. During the December cold spell, the shelter provided three meals a day so nobody would have to walk miles in the below-zero windchill.

“To offer 24-hour shelter is incredible and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Your gift is literally saving lives,” she says. “Our team and our patrons thank you.”

Bismarck Tribune's editorial on the shelter can be found here (subscription required): Programs aid homeless in Bismarck area

Some of the beds at the 24-hour emergency shelter in Bismarck, North Dakota.