Shelters filling up ahead of cold snap

Posted at 11:17 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 00:21:30-05

Open Door Mission chef Brian Springer supervised dozens of volunteers making meals in his kitchen Thursday night. Part of the local church group served hot meals to people staying at the mission—while others spent time chopping away at vegetables, preparing for an expected surge in demand at the shelter over the weekend.

Candace Gregory, President/CEO of the shelter said workers were prepared to bring out floor mats, as the already-full shelter busts at the seams during what could be the season’s first major cold snap over the weekend.

“With it happening over the weekend, there's less resources available for people. That's why we're talking to people now,” Gregory said.

Beds are already spoken for at the 160-bed men’s bunk room. Gregory said another 160 mats were lined up against the wall. She expected many would be used in the coming days. On the women’s side, more than 50 women and children were already sleeping on floor mats.

“We're seeing a number of people coming in off the streets from homeless camps, under bridges, cars, coming in and getting a place because know we'll only have mats available,” said Gregory.

“What I most remember is the pain, from the numbness of the hands and the numbness of the feet, I can never forget that,” said shelter resident Steve Vinson.

Vinson has a private room in the warm shelter and will soon graduate from a treatment program. He sat at a dining room table Thursday as snow fell outside, happy about his sobriety. He also recently completed his probation.

Vinson credited the shelter’s programs for helping him stay sober, which also kept him much warmer than winters when he was an addict.

“This place saved people's lives, and I'm one of them. I’m a living testimony,” he said.

With full beds long before the projected cold snap, and even more people knocking on the Open Door Mission for help leading up to the deep freeze, the shelter is asking for help.

They need more volunteers and extra household items, and are putting out a call for donations:

  •      Blankets
  •      Pillows
  •      Towels
  •      Toilet paper

Click here for Information on drop off points and donations and volunteer opportunities.