LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - With weekend temperatures looking to drop below freezing, one local church is opening their doors to house as many homeless people as they can to keep them safe, fed, and warm.
Kelli Stawecki is the director of the Water’s Edge homeless outreach. She says with the growing number of homeless people in the Lake Area, many will be facing some of the toughest days of the year this weekend.
“They would be miserable and that hurts my heart,” Stawecki said. “We need more shelters in this town. The homeless population has grown in the seven years that I’ve been doing this. We started out feeding 15 and now we have 200 on our list and that’s just the ones we know.”
Stawecki says last year, when the temperature sank below freezing, one homeless person who often frequented Water’s Edge church died trying to stay warm. She says that inspired the members of the church to save as many as they can from the weather.
“After that day, we said we would do whatever we could do to help our friends,” Stawecki said.
This weekend, when the freezing temperatures arrive, the people at the church are going to be removing their chairs in the auditorium, and replacing them all with air mattresses and blankets. They say they can fit up to 120 people in this auditorium.
She says anyone wishing to volunteer their time to help can come.
"We welcome the city to come out and help,” Stawecki said. “I mean, it’s no small task to pick up 750 chairs, put down 150 or 120 air mattresses down, sheets, blankets. It takes a lot of work.”
Stawecki says the public can also just sit and spend time with those needing shelter.
“You can see with your own eyes what happens in Lake Charles,” Stawecki said. “You’ll be shocked. They’re just normal human beings."
Stawecki says the doors to the church open at around 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19.
For a direct line you can call to find out how to help, dial (337) 478-3305.