COLUMBUS, GA. (WRBL) – SafeHouse Ministries opens their doors to the community 365 days a year from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. When temperatures look like they’ll hit that below freezing mark, like they will Christmas weekend, it’s a whole new task. Starting December 22nd, the warming shelter at SafeHouse Ministries will be open and operating 24 hours a day.
SafeHouse is prepared to open their doors overnight for these types of cold fronts, but like Bob has been saying we haven’t seen something of this magnitude in years. With overnight temperatures expected to reach the teens, SafeHouse plans to be open 24 hours a day for the next week. The longest duration they’ve experienced over the last decade.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has declared a State of Emergency as subfreezing temperatures are expected across the state.
“We haven’t been in the teens temperature wise in this community. I bet you in eight, nine, ten years.”Neil Richardson – Executive Director, SafeHouse Ministries
SafeHouse Ministries is ready to open their doors and takes pride in turning nobody away. What some may not expect is how many families will walk through that door.
“We end up with probably four or five families every time we do this. The power’s off. You’ve got people that are at risk of homelessness and they’re making a decision. Christmas power, food, you know, we’re only going to have so many things we can pay.”Neil Richardson – Executive Director, SafeHouse Ministries
With the capacity to facilitate 213 beds Richardson expects almost 100 people a night, something the community can help with.
“The craziest needs we have are toilet paper, coffee and sugar. I’ll probably serve 5000 cups of coffee.”Neil Richardson – Executive Director, SafeHouse Ministries
The biggest obstacle is the long term, freezing temperatures in the forecast.
“We’re going to experience at least 30 some hours of practically freezing temperature. So we’re going to see people that don’t normally seek assistance coming in. That plus our normal clientele.”Neil Richardson – Executive Director, SafeHouse Ministries
Many will spend their 2022 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the shelter.
Richardson says it’s the smiles and knowing their saving peoples lives is what gives him and his staff the energy to serve the need.
“And it’s Christmas, you know, I mean, if there was ever a time that we ought to be pouring the love, this one is it.”Neil Richardson – Executive Director, SafeHouse Ministries
It hits home for Richardson. Years ago he stood in the same place as some of these folks and has made it his life goal to serve, showing the love of Christ.
“I’m paying God forward so that somebody else gets to get what I got.”Neil Richardson – Executive Director, SafeHouse Ministries
It’s the little things they need, like coffee, coffee creamer and toilet paper. With the storm falling over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the volunteer pool shrinks.
Any folks looking to help out can reach out to SafeHouse Ministries at 706-322-3773. They are located at 2101 Hamilton Rd, Columbus, GA, 31904.