Mid-Coast needs donations, help for homeless during cold weather

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Feb. 3, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 3, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.

Winter isn't over yet.

Mid-Coast Family Services along with the Victoria Area Homeless Coalition hope the public will help provide warmth as the Crossroads is expected to receive more cold weather in the days to come.

The organizations are seeking volunteer and monetary assistance for their warming stations, said Ginny Stafford, Mid-Coast Family Services CEO.

The goal is to have emergency warming shelters running at Trinity Episcopal's Pine Street Community Center, Central Church of Christ and First United Methodist Church, Stafford said.

The groups will finalize plans Tuesday afternoon as members of the church groups and nonprofits will go over details regarding volunteer duties and physical locations.

Kim Pickens, president of the coalition, said the groups have been working quickly to open the shelters, adding that it's important that those supporting the area homeless are also prepared.

"We want to make sure each individual and church group is comfortable with the plan," she said.

Still, people need shelter now, Stafford said.

When the Jan. 23 cold front pushed through - dropping temperatures to the low 30s - both groups helped rent rooms at Cameron Inn and Suites on Houston Highway to house the area's most needy.

J.R. Guajardo, employee of Cameron Inn and Suites, said the hotel often helps area nonprofit groups with housing efforts.

"Everyone needs to help," he said. "If there aren't beds available, someone should help."

Guajardo helped Mid-Coast with 11 rooms - both single and double occupancy units.

The rooms helped house 18 homeless over three nights, Stafford said.

Mid-Coast has rented rooms on two other occasions, including two days last week, as well and Sunday and Monday night.

"It's too cold and unhealthy to be living outside, and now, we're tapped out of those funds," Stafford said.

Mid-Coast spent $4,424 to cover those rooms and is now in need of donations to continue housing.

Pickens said windchill can make conditions unbearable.

"It wasn't this cold last year and especially not consecutively," she said.

The public needs to help pay for this, Pickens said.

"We are trying to put them in a hotel and get them out of this weather," she said.

Pickens and Stafford are hopeful the warming shelters will be ready within a week.

Once opened, Stafford hopes the organizations will be able to offer people a safe place to stay and a few meals. She also hopes area restaurants will step in and donate meals for the homeless.

"It'll be lights out by 10 p.m., and in the morning, we'll feed them breakfast before the day begins," Stafford said.

The sooner the shelters can open, the better off the homeless community will be, Pickens said.

"The biggest thing is letting people know it is open and actually in place," she said.



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