Getting out of the cold

Homeless offered shelter during winter

Tribune Chronicle / Lexy Cummins Reginald McCain, left, a staff member at the Warren Family Mission Men’s Program, William Joyce, 38, center, of Niles, and Dominic Mararri, right, public relations director for the mission, prepare a bed Tuesday at the Men’s Home at 1228 W. Market St. in Warren. The mission is expecting an influx of clients with this week’s cold snap.

WARREN — Expecting temperatures hovering around zero this week, local organizations are trying to bring the homeless indoors.

Those out on the streets can protect themselves from the frigid weather at the Warren Family Mission, said Dominic Mararri, the mission’s director of public relations.

“We are able to provide a safe and warm place,” he said.

Throughout the year, the mission offers several programs to help those in need, but during the winter the mission implements a cold weather program. Anyone who is outside can stop in and warm up from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 155 Tod Ave. NW, Mararri said.

“They can stay with us as long as they need,” Mararri said. During their stay, the mission will supply them with a warm shower, food and clothing.

Seeking shelter at the mission’s Men’s Home for the past three weeks, William Joyce, 38, of Niles, said he doesn’t know how people are living out on the streets in the cold weather.

“Don’t be afraid to seek help,” Joyce said. “Seeking help is way better than freezing to death in these temperatures.”

During bitter cold weather, the CDC warns against extensive time spent outdoors, which can lead to hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia causes lower body temperatures, affects the brain and causes the inability to think clearly or move well, according to the CDC. The center said it’s extremely dangerous because “a person may not know it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.”

“Most of them (on the streets) already know it’s not safe and they need to get off, but with mental health and addiction, it’s hard for them to do that,” said Pastor Julia Wike, The Basement Outreach Ministries’ executive director.

Taking matters into their own hands, Wike and ministry members drive around looking for people to help. Those they find can keep warm in the ministry’s van until the group finds them someplace to go, Wike said.

“We’re just out there to intervene,” Wike said. “Maybe they won’t come off the street, but (we can) provide them with what they need. Sometimes they choose to be out there, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still help them.”

Those in need can join the ministry at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at First United Methodist Church, 309 N. Park Ave. for a meal.

Even though Mararri said the mission hasn’t seen an increase in people retreating from the cold just yet, he said they are “always prepared to deal with an influx of people needing a place to stay.”

“In life, seasons come and go,” Mararri said. ” You don’t know how long those seasons are, but you can pull yourself out of them.”

For those wishing to help, Mararri said to support the local organizations with monetary donations, gently used clothing and food.