Homeless struggle to stay warm and safe

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA.(KPLC) -The cold weather makes it dangerous, even potentially deadly to be without shelter. Local homeless people seem to be making do and relying on the kindness of others.

You know the weather's bad when you can't get a meal at Abraham's tent. They hardly ever close, but the regulars were notified yesterday there would be no meals this day because of icy road concerns. Jerome Lester is not homeless now, but has been before. "It's something that needs to be addressed before the weather gets bad like this. Let's try to help, even people who have a record. They might want to change their life around, give them another chance."

A few weeks ago we met John and Ruthie who live in the woods near Abraham's Tent.  Ruthie knows what it's like to be homeless and freezing. "It's scary and the only thing you can do is hope and pray that you make it through the night and the day."

But for now, while the weather is so cold, Ruthie is safe and warm, staying at the home of her pastor and his family in their home in the piney woods of Beauregard Parish. Explains Pastor Clayton Whalley, "A lot of people want to be homeless. They're there because they choose to be but there's a lot of folks that are there because of difficult circumstances and they need help and a lot of times it just takes encouragement."

Whalley is pastor of Moss Bluff Body of Jesus Christ where Ruth and John attend services. He and his wife have 9 children, five still at home. This is not the first time he's taken in someone without a home. "We trust in the Lord and we open our house to whoever the Lord leads us to.  People are people and they just need help and encouragement a lot of time."

John was invited but stayed back at their tent. Explains Ruthie, "I guess he wants to stay there to make sure nobody don't get our stuff or destroy out stuff or whatever."

And Ruthie is learning something about faith in people. "There are some good people out there, people who actually care." And other help is underway too so that hopefully, Ruthie and John won't be homeless much longer.

There are places for the homeless to stay warm tonight. Men can go to the Salvation Army Lodge on Legion Street. Women and children can go to Potters House on Kirkman Street.

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