Cold Weather Shelter Opens to Relief of Area Homeless

Cold Weather Shelter Opens to Relief of Area Homeless

Shelter opened Friday, about four weeks early, thanks to an anonymous $7,000 donation prompted by a KQ2 story.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) As temperatures have dropped into the single digits and wind chills have fallen below zero, it's dangerous outside.

While most of us are safe in our homes, some don't have that option.

A man who called himself Mark has been on the streets, homeless, for nearly two weeks. Bad times have come to him just as cold winter weather has moved in.

"It's excruciatingly cold, especially at three or four o'clock in the morning," he said. "It's just overwhelming feeling of just helplessness."

Friday afternoon's high temperatures were in the teens, and on this cold day Mark has been sitting for several hours outside St. Joseph's cold weather shelter. He wants to make sure he's the first one in line for a cot inside when they open at 4 p.m.

"I've been staying in shelters," he said. "I've been staying in abandoned apartment buildings and anywhere that I can just to keep warm."

In this weather, keeping warm has been tough.

"The bone chilling cold, you just can't describe it," he said.

Another homeless man waiting to get into the shelter said he had been living in his car for the past five months. Mark says there's a wide variety of people who have become homeless.

"The whole gamut of life is out here," he said. "It's not just the addicts and the alcoholics. Everyone is out here."

Inside the shelter, they were making final preparations to open up the for the first day of the season. They were nearly four weeks ahead of schedule thanks to a $7,000 gift from an anonymous donor who was moved to give after seeing a story on KQ2.

"It's cold out there," said Jeanne Archer, Interserv Associate Director. "We all know it's cold. To be able to do this is has just been wonderful."

Staff have scrambled to prepare to open early.

"It's kind of been a whirlwind, and a pleasant one," Archer said. "When we got the word that a generous donation had been made so that we could make this happen. It's like an early Christmas for all of us."

At 4 p.m. the shelter opened its doors. After hours of waiting in the cold, Mark could finally come inside and warm up.

Upon entering the shelter he was asked how it felt. "Warm. It's a godsend,"

The cold weather shelter has room for 14 men at any one time.

Last year, staff served 90 men over the winter. Men are housed there from 4 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next morning.
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