Homeless struggle to keep warm - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Homeless struggle to keep warm

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December 17, 2003

Albany - It's one of those nights to start a fire or turn up that electric blanket to stay warm. But it's not that easy for the hundreds of homeless in Albany. For them, a cold night can be frightening and even deadly.

Joe Nathan Byrd prepares dinner at the Albany Rescue Mission - his home for now. "I've lived here off and on for about 6 years," said Byrd.

The recovering alcoholic found help at the Mission. "I had a drinking problem and didn't need to be around my son and daughter. I came here and felt comfortable."

Byrd says cold nights lead many people to the shelter. "We have beds packed. We put mattresses in the hall, and we have blankets to keep them warm out in the cold."

The mission is packed, as is Faith Community Outreach, which houses homeless women and their children. "There are a lot of people on the street that don't have anywhere to go. It's sad," said Director Sylvia Allen.

The outreach is having to turn away people and is feeding 25 to 30 people a day. 40 men live at the rescue mission now, and many more come to eat each day. "We never turn people away," said Byrd. "I'll be finished cooking for the night and someone will come in and say they're hungry. So, I feed them."

"Every day they're asking for blankets," said Allen. Blankets are not enough when temperatures dip into the 20's. And on this cold night, shelter managers say they can't shut their doors to someone in need.

Faith Community Outreach is giving away gift bags on Thursday. The bags are filled with socks, hats, blankets, and gloves.

Posted at 5:16PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com