December 9, 2013
A few dozen homeless men had a guaranteed warm place to sleep Monday night, ahead of the expected snow. PACEM's men's shelter at Portico Church in Charlottesville was near capacity.
Volunteers say they see an up tick in guests when the temperatures dive.
"When it's a bit warmer or there's no precipitation, we've seen fewer men, around 35 or so," said Jenn Downs, a volunteer at the church. "Tonight though, we definitely have I think 42 men with a few more coming later, so it'll be a pretty big, full house tonight."
Travis Wood was a regular shelter guest three years ago. Now that he is homeless again, he is back.
"It's cold, and when it's raining, it's hard to find shelter. It gets wet. It's not a good thing at all," said Wood.
Wood says he was welcomed back with open arms.
Volunteers say that's what they're all about.
"We're here for them ongoing. It doesn't end when they leave," said Downs.
"I really appreciate what they do," said Woods.
PACEM opened the doors to its first shelter in 2004. Its shelter director says, since then, they have had a significant impact, especially during the coldest nights.
"I think PACEM has cut down on the deaths of people sleeping out in the weather. It's just a safer place than being out there," said shelter director Claudette Greene. "You hear some of the stories when they talk about where they sleep at. I can't imagine it, and to look at that person and think they're going through that, it's just tough sometimes."
Greene says they operate shelters from late October to early April.
To learn more about PACEM, click HERE.
Click HERE for more on Portico Church.