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Mission center faces overcrowding during summer

Posted at 12:29 AM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 01:55:07-04
The Open Door Mission is over capacity with women and children and has been for the last year.
 
The mission's women's shelter, Lydia House, houses 300 beds, but with with the influx of women and children during summer months, nearly 80 people are sleeping on floor mats. 
 
Candace Gregory, CEO of the Open Door Mission says the overflow of guests in the summer is mostly because women trapped in abusive relationships are able to escape their abusers and seek safety elsewhere, like the Lydia House. 
 
"Many of our women and children are escaping domestic violence situations because their kids cannot be tracked because they're not in school and they can escape safely and get reestablished into the community," says Gregory. 
 
With the high demand for help, Gregory says the mission will never turn someone away from its doors, but does need more support to accommodate the women and families.
 
"It's hard for people to imagine that people need blankets or pillows during these hot months, but the truth is, we need them here," says Gregory.
 
The mission is utilizing any space they can, converting community rooms as sleeping areas for families.
 
The guests are divided into rooms based off family size and special accommodations. 
 
Currently, the center has 23 single women sleeping on floor mats, inches from each other, while families of five or six share a larger mat in a separate community room. 
 
Steve Frazee, Senior Program Director for the mission center says that although many of their guests are happy to be in a safe haven as opposed to in prison or on the streets, the overflow is a hassle and sometimes uncomfortable for families.
 
"The sleeping arrangements are troublesome, especially for senior citizens and some women who struggle getting up from the mats. Families are also struggling to adjust to members different sleeping schedules," says Frazee.
 
Frazee says typically shelters receive more generosity during the holidays and winter months due to colder weather, but insists their summer needs are just as crucial, if not greater. 
 
The Open Door Mission is hosting a "Christmas in July" event this Saturday to collect food, clothes and house items for families.
 
For more information and how you can help, visit their website or Facebook page.