A number of agencies have been working on ways to address the plight of the homeless in our community. But each case is unique and has its own challenges.
Fifty two year old Donnie Burnett is on the road looking for work and a roof over his head. He's met a local man who's trying to help him.
But when you are homeless and out of work there are no simple solutions.
Burnett has been a transient for about three years. His eighty pound backpack and bag are all he has. He says, after a bad divorce, he began moving around in search of a new start and warmer weather. "A friend of mine that I knew persuaded me to come to Texas. He said it never got cold there."
Burnett stayed a night in a couple of different shelters and then was standing along a roadway with a sign when Shannon Kennedy of Lake Charles stopped. He admits it's risky to pick up people standing on the side of the highway. " No. It's never a good idea to stop and pick up people you don't know. But, I don't know, when you get that gut feeling that it's legit, go with your gut. Shoes had holes.I don't know something said this is legit. Do what you can do to help him."
Burnett sats Kennedy decided to help. "He gave me some money and I started to walk away and he stopped me and said, 'Where are you staying tonight?' And I said, 'I don't know.' And he asked me if I would like to stay at a hotel and only somebody without a brain would decline that offer."
Burnett plans to pay him back for his help. "I'm not a bum, I want to clarify that. I'm not a bum. Whatever it is, I'll work for it." Kennedy has only known Burnett for a few days, but believes him. "I've gotten to know his history and his life pretty in depth and the man doesn't want a handout. Mr. Donald wants work. He wants to earn a living."
Burnett says he's willing to do just about anything for work. "I've done concrete work, I've layed block, labor work, I've painted. I've built boats."
Kennedy has been driving Burnett around helping him search for work and a roof over his head. Burnett says he's willing to work in exchange for a place to stay. There are local homeless shelters, such as the Salvation Army, but they don't offer a long term solution.
This week the local Salvation Army is having its empty bowl fundraiser to provide money for services including the homeless shelter. It's Thursday night at L'auberge and, at last word, there were still some tickets. For more information call 337-433-4155.
If anyone wants to offer a job or place to stay to Donnie Burnett call him at 618-435-1120.