'Living in the trees' Part 3: Getting out to make a change - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

'Living in the trees' Part 3: Getting out to make a change


In part 2, you met Robert 'Doc' Weidow and heard his elaborate story which included some of his criminal history, too many details for the time we had. There were also other claims that we are not able to independently confirm. However, the focus of the series isn't so much about people like Doc or what he did to fall into his situation, but instead how to help those that find themselves living in the trees.  

In this third and final part, KPLC's Gerron Jordan shows you just a sample of the many organizations in SWLA doing just that. 

Abraham's Tent is one of Lake Charles' long time feeding centers for the low-income and homeless. As the masses enter the building for a hot meal and even clothes and shoes, it's evident Doc isn't the only person who depends on the tent.   

"If it wasn't for Abraham and Ms. Pearl, I would have starved a long time ago," said homeless man, Robert Lineberger. 

Abraham's is just one of many local organizations committed to helping make the lives of the homeless a little easier. Just last week, students at Nelson Elementary School proved you don't necessarily have to own a shelter to help. 

In just a week's time, the school raised over 3,000 canned and non-perishable foods to be given to the Oak Park Food Pantry, showing there's no age restriction on helping out either. 

Another local group takes it a step further, committing their life's mission to helping the homeless in whatever way they can. 

"To us, this is definitely a lifestyle. This is not a one day project," said Michael LeBlanc, of 'The Forgotten People, USA'. "This is not something that's going to stop now" he said. 

You might remember LeBlanc and 'The Forgotten People' from a story in November when they camped out with a local youth group to raise awareness for the homeless. But it didn't stop there. They went on a weeklong east coast tour, stopping in cities and giving clothes, food, time and prayer to the homeless people they came in contact with. But it still wasn't over. 

I caught up with them recently as they filmed a short film that will be nationally circulated to bring light to homeless communities all over. 

"I play a homeless guy that's living on the street and trying to get people to notice me," said Joshua Lavergne. "At the end, he turns into Jesus.  So it's a message of you never know who he's going to be or where he's going to be and to just be aware and to love people."

"We're just a generation where we're not going to sit back anymore and keep this process going on," said LeBlanc. "We're going to stand up and be the change we wish to see and we're going to keep doing that until the last day that we have."

So now understanding the problem and seeing who it affects, what can you do to help fight the issue in SWLA? 

"If someone is sitting at home and they're interested in trying to do something, I think they need to just contact us and try to volunteer," said Tarek Polite of the SWLA Continuum of Care.  "I think that if we can get their name and number we can find something for them to do."

"There's no point in sitting on your couch and believing that you can't do anything or you can't go anywhere with it because just one simple act of love can spread throughout the world," LeBlanc believes.  

"A lot of them don't want material things or things like that, but they just want someone to listen to their story or laugh with them or cry with them, whatever it takes, just be there with them. Because that's a lot of what they miss out on," said Lavergne. 

"The worst thing you could do is give a homeless person money," said Lineberger. "You don't know if we're going to buy drugs with it or alcohol with it. The best thing to do is to give it to Ms. Pearl or someone like Ms. Pearl because they know how to use it and it will go towards what they intend it to go for." 

Places like Abraham's Tent and the Salvation Army are always accepting donations. Click here for a list of Southwest Louisiana resources. 

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