Shelters temporarily opens doors for homeless during cold nights

Courtesy of FAMU TV News

The Big Bend Homeless Coalition and Kearney Center will accommodate the homeless as temperatures are expected to drop into the 30s over the next week.

According to a press release, from Feb. 4-9, adult men and women will be able to report to the Kearney Center at 2650 Municipal Way. Dinner will be served from 7-8 p.m. on weekdays and 6-7 p.m. on weekends. The sleeping arrangements will be assigned at 8 p.m.

Those who have children can report to the Family Emergency Shelter at HOPE Community located at 2729 W. Pensacola St. Big Bend Homeless Coalition coordinates the shelter. Dinner is served there from 5-6 p.m. and sleeping assignments are at 7 p.m.

This is the second time this year that the cold nights initiative has been implemented.

Jacob Reiter, director for the Kearney Center, expressed how the Kearney Center and Big Bend Coalition were able to accommodate about 275 people last month. He also stated that in 2015 they were able to implement this initiative for 30 cold nights. Temperatures were forecasted to be as low as 35 degrees.

Reiter also spoke on how the cold nights initiative came about based on severity of the temperatures in the past.

“In the ‘80s, there weren’t emergency shelters in Tallahassee. Actually in 1986, several people froze to death,” Reiter said.

He explained that the cold night shelter concept started in the basement of First Presbyterian Church.

“It then became evident that we needed shelter services around this area,” Reiter shared.

He also compared the amount of people they get on a regular night versus a cold night.

“We typically get about 295 people on a regular night, but the other night we got about 345 people,” Reiter said.

Marie Vandenberg, director of the Big Bend Coalition, spoke about the services offered to those in need.

“We serve three meals a day,” Vandenberg said.

She also mentioned that the number of people that Big Bend accommodates didn’t affect them as much as the Kearney Center.

“We don’t typically see a huge spike in numbers,” Vandenberg said. “But at the center there are times where they have to move off site. Some community churches would open just to accommodate the people they had.”

For more information, including volunteer and donation opportunities, contact The Shelter at (850) 792-9000 and the Big Bend Homeless Coalition at (850) 576-5566.