Helping the Homeless

January 1, 2008

Reported By: Natalie Grise

At the three homeless shelters in Lake Charles, you can see signs of the season both outside the buildings, and inside.

"It seems that during the holidays this building is always full of women and children," Rev. Leona Benoit says of the Potter House, a shelter for homeless women and children.

With all 26 beds in the Potter's House full, they had to turn away seven needy people, including one mother with five children.

"I feel bad because that meant there was no Christmas for those children," Benoit says.

"It's horrible, because I know they'll be sleeping under the bridge or in abandoned houses," says Rev. Benoit's husband, Dr. Russell Benoit, who works with the Lord's Place, a shelter for homeless men that houses 24.

The Benoit's say the need for more shelters in the Lake Area is much larger than people realize.

"Right now there's a need for 200 beds in the city, there's that many people with no place to go," Dr. Benoit says.

"We just don't have enough facilities to house people throughout the year. This is not a problem just during the holidays that we turn people down it's all year," says Rev. Benoit.

If you or someone you know is homeless, you can contact the Potter's House at 477-1116, and the Lord's Place at 494-6277. Both shelters are currently full, but they will work to find a place for someone to stay.

The Salvation Army has a shelter for the homeless on Legion Street. When the temperature goes below 40 degrees, it's their policy not to turn anyone away.