Let face it: it feels bitterly cold out there. One of the best strategies to cope is to just stay indoors. But what if you have nowhere indoors to go to?
Many of us take for granted a warm bed, blankets and a hot meal. When the digits dip below zero, we often overlook the homeless and their struggles to stay alive in these unforgiving winter temperatures.
With a smile and rosy cheeks, Cheryl Coy sits in the living room at Hope Ministries in South Bend and knows she's home. For now a least.
"I'm very grateful,” Coy said. “I go to bed every night thanking the Lord I have a warm place to sleep."
Coy moved to South Bend from West Virginia. Without Hope Ministries, she'd be out on the streets, facing whatever mother nature has to offer, alone every night.
“Seek shelter, seek help," Coy said.
And that's her recipe for success. Coy said the first step out of the cold is admitting you need help.
“Try to go somewhere where there is weather amnesty,” Coy said.
Along with Hope Ministries, the South Bend Center for the Homeless also offers weather amnesty from October to April every year. When there's a cold advisory, their doors remain open for 24 hours a day.
“In these winter months we're at full capacity every night," said Taya Groover, the Chief Development Officer of The South Bend Center For the Homeless.
The Center for the Homeless takes in 30 extra people a night on top of the 200 residents living there. It's no surprise that combating the cold can be dangerous, even deadly.
“We don't want anyone out there,” Groover said. “We don't want to lose anyone in the community just cause of a cold, a cold night."
Groover claims the cold can open the door for opportunity. If the homeless seek help and warmth, she says someone will be there to listen and guide them as well.
“Everyone has choices to make, they make the choice to come to one of these organization to stay warm and stay alive and be a part of this community," Groover said.
And the Center for the Homeless and Hope Ministries need your help. They need everything from gloves, to hand warmers and boots. If you need something to stay warm, the homeless most likely need it to.
You can donate at the Center for the Homeless at 813 S. Michigan Street in South Bend or at Hope Ministries 432 S. Lafayette Blvd in South Bend.
Vision Of Praise Minitires, Inc., has a clothing and food pantry in South Bend at 341 Lincolnway West. They are open on Saturday 10am to 2pm.