COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has confirmed this past July to be the hottest month recorded in 174 years. Forecasts predict temperatures to reach 102 degrees this upcoming week.
SafeHouse Ministries and Valley Rescue Mission spent their summer bringing people in from the heat.
“It’s critical because if you don’t have a cooler place to go, I mean, it really is very hazardous to your health,” CEO and President of Valley Rescue Mission, Mike Gaymon told WRBL. “We’re trying to make sure that people know that our facilities are open and we’re going to take care of folks any way that we can.”
Their goal, to keep people safe and healthy.
“It’s safety. You know, you don’t have to worry about whether today is going to be a day that you could get sick or get hurt. So, they can trust us. I think that’s the relationship that we try to build,” Executive Director of SafeHouse Ministries, Neil Richardson said. “Why is that important? Because if I build a relationship with somebody and they’ll listen to us, if we make a suggestion on, you know, it could be time to look at some of these issues in your life and see if we can’t make some changes.”
Both organizations have been serving Columbus’ homeless community for decades, they say no other summer compares.
“We didn’t open last year, the year before we opened twice,” Richardson said. “This has been the craziest year and there’s no end in sight of already. Today we’re at 90. It is almost like, ‘who celebrates 90 degrees?’ We are.”
With the increase of traffic, comes with an increase in supplies. Valley Rescue Mission is on target to feeding more than 100,000 meals this year. Last year they served more than 133,000. SafeHouse Ministries is averaging 200 people a day seeking shelter. Richardson says their biggest problem is finding the space to house everyone.
“Having to find extra places for some of the meetings. You know, there’s a 12-step meeting here at lunch,” Richardson said. “Trying to make sure that we’ve got we’ve got balance with that, making sure because more people are coming, we’re serving more lunches than we usually do because some people that might come here a couple, three times a week are coming every day.”
In addition, SafeHouse Ministries’ ice machine broke two weeks ago during one of the hottest parts of the summer. In the meantime, they’ve been buying ice. Both shelters are open to donations.
“We need your prayers. I mean, you know, we’re dealing with a lot of issues. If you want to donate your goods to us, 100% of those dollars go right back into helping us feed the homeless, helping give people a chance if you will, to work through their addictions,” Gaymon said.
“Water, water, water. That’s what we need the most. Coffee, toilet paper, sugar, those are going out the door like its fire,” Richardson told WRBL.
SafeHouse Ministries is located off Hamilton Road, Valley Rescue Mission sits on the intersection of 2nd Avenue and 30th Street.
Valley Rescue Mission is set to open Saturday from 1 to 8 p.m. as a cooling shelter. SafeHouse Ministeries anticipates opening later this week with temperatures forecast to range between 99-102 degrees.