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Hundreds of people seek free hotel rooms to shelter from the cold

Homeless men provided with motel rooms for three nights due to the cold temperatures
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:03 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It’s dangerously cold out there for anyone who does not have shelter.

But there’s been a major effort in the Lake Area to not leave anybody out in the cold.

Many of the homeless don’t have access to television or their own phones.

So they went to the place and the woman they often do when they need help.

Water’s Edge Church is like ground zero for the street homeless, and here they come when they are in desperate need. One woman was wearing flip flops and managed to get some warm socks and shoes.

And those who don’t just show up call. Homeless Outreach Director Kelli Stawecki’ s phone rang constantly.

“Still living in your car?” asks Kelli. “Yes mam,” says the women on the phone. “What’s your name?” “Kayla.”

Then onto another person.

“We have him on the list so you all just show up about 1:45 and we’ll go from there,” says Kelli, reassuringly.

“I’m going try to put you at America’s Best, so you can get to work,” Kelli tells a homeless man on the phone. “Thank you Ms. Kelli,” he says.

Plus, there was a steady stream of donations walking in the door.

Sarah Killian used to be homeless and made food bags to give back. Bags that included encouraging notes.

“Now we’re both working, we got a vehicle. I thought this would be a really great way to give back because other people helped us. We never went a day without eating. Never asked anybody for anything, but never went without so I thought it was a great way to give back,” said Killian.

“We put a couple of sandwiches, some chips, pretzels. Wrote a little inspirational note just to let them know they are loved because for us that was something we enjoyed if people did that for us,” she said.

Killian wants people to keep the faith and be hopeful because she is proof that people can pull themselves up and out of homelessness.

Mount Olive Pastor Braylon Harris says it’s beautiful the way so many people and faiths pitch in to meet the need:

“The love of God compels us. Matthew 25, it says, ‘What you do to the least of my brothers you do to me. So we do it as an act of loving God and we’re commissioned to do. And so, we’re called to do this.”

He says many of the homeless people do not have the proper clothing, do not have the layers of clothing that are needed.

“So, it’s very important for their health to make sure that we can do the very best we can and get them as warm as we can and keep them that way for as long as we can,” said Harris.

Some of those who were housed in motels were those who, because of the hurricanes, are living in substandard homes that cannot be properly heated.

“With homes in the condition that we find them in Southwest Louisiana, one could actually be in their home and still vulnerable to the low temperatures that we’re going to see this weekend,” said Harris.

At this point united way is not giving any more rooms. They alone have provided 183 rooms for 453 people who are being sheltered.

United Way director Denise Durel says people have been told to check in between 3 and 9 pm. After that, they’ll know if they have any vacant rooms. If so, Durel says they’ll work to get more people into hotels tomorrow morning.

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