Over the past six weeks, intense cold fronts have held Tallahassee’s homeless individuals by ear. They struggle to find warmth as they layer themselves with thick blankets and warm jackets, hoping simply to survive.
Averaging 300 a night, The Kearney Center has been the melting pot for those seeking a shelter during the unexpected cold months and weather dips.
Jacara Wright, a case management supervisor at the center, says that older citizens are particularly at risk during these brisk months.
“I think the most severe cases we see are elderly vulnerable adults who may not be able to carry on with themselves,” Wright said. “Like those on wheelchairs, those with severe health or mental health issues.”
During those nights, the center activates its cold front policy and becomes an escape from the harsh, bitter winds.
“For folks in a cold night, we are providing food and shelter, access to shower, access to food and donations as available,” Wright said.
In the morning, on a case-by-case basis, the individuals are asked to leave at 8:30 a.m., noon at the latest on days with colder morning temperatures. There is no length of stay requirement for The Kearney Center so these individuals can come back that day for another night under the warm sheets.
The Kearney Center provides housing during cold nights and the opportunity to get their foot in the water when it comes to returning to society.
“So, we just opened day services, which opens the community to our resources,” Wright said. “We have access to providers that assist with food stamps, they assist with health insurance, job placement, and of course my department case management we assist clients with anything but also specifically we’re focused on housing.”
Their efforts and passion to guide these individuals to a healthier lifestyle keep the center going strong. As their slogan goes — “Connecting Everyone with Second Chances” — they certainly do in every shape and form attempt to provide the resources and care that these individuals so rightfully deserve.
The Kearney Center has had previous patrons return to give back to the center that helped them get back on their feet.
“To volunteer, you do have to be six months out of The Kearney Center,” Wright said. “And then to actually work here you have to be a year out.”
For those who are in need of help or know anyone in need of housing, The Kearney Center is open 24/7.