City Rescue Mission Sees Influx Of People With Snowy Weather

Sunday, November 16th 2014, 10:31 pm
By: News 9

The brutally cold temperatures have local shelters scrambling to provide help before it is too late for some people. Many shelters, like the City Rescue Mission, have seen a record increase. 

The rescue mission is housing about 600 people when the center normally keeps a few hundred.

"We have a full house," said the rescue mission's president and CEO, Tom Jones.

"When the weather turns like this, and those beds are all full, then we have a gymnasium and a chapel and a cafeteria and we put the mats down at night, so that they have a have place to stay literally alive."

Although the City Rescue Mission's 2-story facility has never been at capacity, Sunday night it came close. Jones says the shelter is always prepared. It's become a place to dry off wet, cold feet.

"I've been on these streets for off and on for 14 years, and this is God sent," said 49-year-old Traci Naugle, who has been at the shelter for three weeks.

"There are a lot of people still out there and a lot of my friends are still out there sleeping on the ground and in abandoned warehouses and houses and stuff, and I wish they would come in, especially the elderly, we have a lot of elderly people, and that's what scares me."

The shelter took in close to 200 additional people Sunday, who had nowhere else to go during the snow.

"It's real nice you know. It's too dangerous for anyone to be outside in the cold," said Paula Smithpeter, who's been at the rescue mission since August. “I been outside and stuck outside in the cold before and it's not where I want to be. Nobody can make it in this kind of weather.”

Both the men's and women's areas were full with just about every seat taken. There were also more than 100 children, like 9-year-old Justin Pierce, who plans to run the City Rescue Mission one day.

"Because then I could change all the rules and stuff, and everybody could have food in their rooms, and I would make it look cool,” Pierce said.

It's the little things like having a hot meal, running water and a place to stay that mean most on a snow day.

"It's not the Holiday Inn, but it's free. We're warm. We're safe," said Naugle.

Representatives with the Jesus House and Salvation Army shelters reported the facilities were also near capacity, but able to roll out cots for anyone needing a place to stay.

The City Rescue Mission has been around for 54 years and is the largest homeless shelter in the state with 640 beds, located at 800 W. California Ave.

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